Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has said that new figures showing an increase in demand for homelessness services show that the government is still failing miserably to deal with the crisis in social housing. He made his comments following the publication of Focus Ireland's annual report which shows a 25% increase on demands for its services to people experiencing homelessness.
"We have a very serious problem in that there is simply not enough housing available to meet the need for it. This means that rents have increased year on year since this government has taken office. Families are being squeezed out of their homes due to the inflexibility of government policy to address these problems and the unwillingness of the Minister for Housing, his department and local authorities to provide new council housing.
“In the last year 10,000 people sought the homelessness services of Focus Ireland which is only one of the major voluntary bodies dealing with this crisis.
“There is no easy solution to this crisis but the necessary steps are clear.
“We need to implement a plan of Rent Control to stop unabated rent hikes and stabilise rates to a level people can afford. This must be done in conjunction with a change to rent assistance schemes in place to make them more flexible in order to protect families from becoming homeless for the sake of a few euro a week.
“Finally, we must build more social housing through local authorities which are best placed to do so. This requires a major investment of funds such as the €1 billion identified by Sinn Fein in the Strategic Investment Fund. It also requires councils to access new funding through the Housing Finance Agency by setting up arms-length housing trusts. We must also fast track the delivery of NAMA housing units and put in place a mechanism for the Department, Local Authorities and NAMA to work to overcome obstacles blocking some units from being used.
“Homelessness and the severe housing need in our state will not be solved by well-meaning statements and strategy documents. It will be solved by delivering housing for the people who need it. Until the government accepts this and acts accordingly this crisis will continue and more families will face homelessness."