Sinn Féin seek to eliminate homelessness
Sinn Féin TDs last week successfully secured Dáil support for a Prevention of Homelessness Bill which will now move to committee stage.
The Bill, authored by Sinn Féin’s Housing spokesperson, Eoin O’Broin, seeks to accurately identify the true number of homeless people in Ireland, which is much higher than the government will admit, but also will provide a responsibility on Local Authorities and Housing agencies to prevent people becoming homeless. At present, there is no homeless intervention until after a family have lost their home.
During the Dáil debate on the Bill last week, Cavan Monaghan Dáil Deputy, Matt Carthy, said that a multi-faceted response to tackling homelessness was required. However, perhaps stated the obvious, he contended that a crucial component must be the provision of houses.
Teachta Carthy said:
“Homelessness is something that will sometimes happen. Some people will always find themselves in homelessness.
“However, when there is mass homelessness, as evident in the figures that were cited in the House tonight, there is a systemic problem.
“There are a variety of reasons for homelessness, and people recognise that, but some things done by the Government make it more likely that homelessness will occur and that homelessness figures will increase.
“Homelessness will increase when there is no proper mental health strategy in place, no proper investment in addiction services and the education sector from preschool through to third level is not properly resourced.
Crucially though, when houses are not built, homelessness will increase.
“This State has done many things wrong since its foundation, but one of the things it got right sporadically has been the delivery of public housing for the people. Some of us in the House are beneficiaries of that system.
“The reason we are in the current crisis is an ideologically-driven approach that was about removing the building of houses from the public sector, particularly the local authorities, and outsourcing and privatising it. That is why we now have a situation where almost no local authority has the resources and capacity to do something that was its basic and most important role for several generations, the provision of homes for the people who lived in the local authority area.
“Hundreds of millions of euro are being paid annually to subsidise private and corporate landlords. If one couples that with the tax breaks that are given to vulture funds, the banks and the cuckoo funds, the amount of money the State spends on housing every year is astronomical. The Government will, in some instances, try to applaud itself for that investment, but it is sending money down the drain.
“Hundreds of millions of euro are being spent on housing annually, yet there is no housing at the end of it. That is not only a ludicrous policy but also an inhumane one, which has being overseen by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Governments.
“The answer is multifaceted. It requires investment in public services such as education and addiction and mental health services.
“Crucially, however, it requires the building of houses and doing what we have done right in the past. We must get back to that point”.