Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien TD has told Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore that the policies of Social Protection Minister Joan Burton are increasing homelessness.
He asked Deputy Gilmore if Minister Burton will instruct community welfare officers to breach the rent supplement limit where a family is at risk of homelessness.
Speaking during Leaders Questions in the Dáil today, Deputy O’Brien said:
“In recent months Councils we have seen a dramatic rise in families presenting as homeless.
“Working families with young children who lost their jobs or have had their wages and hours cut are now dependent on rent supplement to keep a roof over their heads.
“Joan Burton’s decision to introduce strict rent limits in 2013 has meant that as rent levels increase these families are being priced out of their homes.
“Jan O’Sullivan’s decision to cut capital funding for social housing by 23% in 2012 and 30% in 2013 and a further 5% in 2014 has meant that Councils have not been able to provide the homes that these families urgently need.
“As a result of the actions of these two Ministers, hundreds of families are now living in hotels and hostels – whole families to a single room costing thousands of euros per family per month.
“The Labour Party are in Government is making the housing crisis worse.
“The decisions of your two Ministers Joan Burton and Jan O’Sullivan are forcing hundreds of families out of their homes.
“So Tánaiste, following on from last week’s announcement, will Joan Burton instruct community welfare officers to breach the rent supplement limit where a family is at risk of homelessness?
“And will your government provide local authorities with the funds required to provide the homes which these families so desperately need.
“Unfortunately only as Labour faced a wipe-out in the run up to the elections did you decide to take some action.
“The funding announced last week to fund new builds and refurbishment is a drop in the ocean of housing storm that under Labours watch has spiralled out of control.
"The additional €50million announced before the election, while welcome, is simply not enough.
“And meanwhile families are still being forced from their homes because community welfare officers are not being allowed to break the rent supplement limits.”