Carthy tells Taoiseach: ‘Eviction Ban needed now’
Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, last week challenged Taoiseach Mícheál Martin to introduce an eviction ban in order to prevent homelessness during of the winter months.
Representing Sinn Féin during leaders questions, in the absence of Mary Lou McDonald, Deputy Carthy said that the 3,200 children who are currently homeless need immediate government intervention. He said that if the emergency response to the pandemic justified an eviction ban, then the same should hold true in response to the current crises in housing and regarding rising homelessness figures.
Techta Carthy told the Dáil:
“Focus Ireland has published its annual report on homelessness and it makes for alarming reading. The report states that rising homelessness in Ireland is not inevitable but rather it is the result of the wrong political decisions and that the crisis will only get worse this winter unless the Government acts now with urgency.
“The words of Focus Ireland founder, Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy, capture the heartbreaking reality of this crisis. She said:
‘“Over 3,200 children who are homeless do not have the luxury of time. Their childhoods are being stolen as homelessness is causing young people to lose out on the safety of a permanent home. This situation is unacceptable and must end. Much greater political leadership and commitment is urgently required if we are to overcome the challenges our society faces in ending homelessness.”’
“For two months in a row we have had record levels of homelessness reported. Within a month or two, unless something drastic changes we will hit and exceed the shameful milestone of an official homelessness figure of 11,000 people.
“The human stories behind this figure are ones of real hardship. These include families living in tents; children growing up in hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation and not knowing the security of a place they can call home; and households transported and displaced out of their communities because there are no emergency accommodation places left in their counties.
“Approximately 60 families from Dublin are in emergency accommodation in Meath and Kildare and there are a further 60 individuals from Dublin in emergency accommodation in Kildare.
“The Government needs to act now and with real intent.
“Given the scale of the challenge that exists the budget was deeply disappointing. There is no increase in social housing targets and the insufficient targets that are in place will not be met this year. There was no funding for any new initiative to prevent the dramatic rise in homelessness.
“Even though the majority of those forced into homelessness are coming from the private rental sector there was no ban on evictions. The truth is that without a significant change of direction in these areas we will see more families pushed into homelessness and into the nightmare of a winter without a secure roof over their heads.
“In the last week, the media have reported that the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has only started to liaise with the Attorney General about the feasibility of introducing a winter ban on evictions. We saw during the pandemic that the State responded with emergency protections that safeguarded tenants. We already know it is feasible because such an eviction ban was put in place as part of Covid measures.
“We see that the Scottish Government has already introduced an emergency winter ban on evictions from early September. A similar eviction ban is required here and it has to be accompanied by an increase in the tenant in situ scheme.
“Instead, we hear that deliberations are at an early stage and that the Government has not yet agreed to introduce an eviction ban.
“Homelessness is spiralling out of control. It is an emergency and the Government must deliver an emergency response. I urge the Taoiseach to act urgently, change direction and immediately introduce a winter ban on evictions. With better political choices the tide of homelessness and the crisis we are facing can be turned but the Government must start today.”
“Heart of society”
In his response Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that housing “goes to the heart of the kind of society we are and want to be”. He claimed that the Government is very concerned with the increase in homelessness and it has a comprehensive suite of responses.
Deputy Carthy retorted:
“The Taoiseach said the homelessness issue goes to the heart of the type of society we want to be.
“What does it say about our society under his Government that homelessness figures are rising month on month and are now reaching what would be the horrendous scandal of a figure of 11,000?
“These are real people. They are people’s sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and neighbours. The Taoiseach indicated the conditions need to be right. What conditions precisely do we need to justify an eviction ban, considering those numbers?
“He indicated that during the Covid crisis, the conditions were right for an eviction ban. I contend the conditions now are such that it is absolutely essential for an eviction ban to be put in place.
“Of course, an eviction ban is not the solution to the housing crisis. The solution is to build houses.
However, in the here and now, I ask the Taoiseach again: will he ensure an eviction ban is put in place as a matter of absolute urgency?”
While An Taoiseach did not commit to a ban on evictions, media reports have since suggested that government may accede to the Sinn Féin demand, albeit for a shorter period than necessary and without the necessary accompanying ban on rent increases.