Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has condemned the government's homelessness policy and blamed it for the recent closure of Dundalk Women's Refuge Centre. He also said that the government was simply reallocating funds and was not delivering the housing needed to justify cuts to emergency accommodation.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy Ellis said:
"This government gave a commitment to end homelessness by 2016. Central to this plan was the so-called ‘housing led’ approach. This approach is meant to focus on providing access to permanent housing as the primary response to all forms of homelessness. However, instead of investing in more housing, Labour and Fine Gael have cut from emergency accommodation which is bursting at the seams and delivering very few permanent houses.
“Dundalk Women's Refuge has been forced to close after its budget was cut to €25,000 a year, amounting to an astronomical 75% decrease to its budget since 2012. This is despite a 19% increase in admissions to these centres since 2008.
“These centres are a pivotal, necessary and lifesaving necessity for women and children in desperate need of help and shelter.
"A housing led approach is welcome but we cannot close emergency accommodation and shelters in anticipation of housing which does not yet exist. The government has dragged its heels on increasing the numbers of housing for those in need.
“We need a holistic approach to providing housing which ensures that there are measures in place to provide the support and care for people when and where they need it.
“Caring for women and children who must flee an abusive situation is not as simple as providing a roof over their heads and a bed to sleep in. It requires a broad approach focusing on care, recovery, shelter and on-going support.
“This government must provide the necessary funding and strategy to protect the most vulnerable people in our state.”