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Government has the power to end long-term homelessness by 2010

15 November, 2008

Speaking this afternoon at a conference in Cardiff organised by FEANTSA, the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless, Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has called on governments throughout Europe to “get real” adding “its time for government’s to deliver on their commitments to end long term homelessness.”


The Dublin MEP said:


“In August of this year the government launched an ambitious and deliverable plan to end long term homelessness by 2010. The Way Home strategy commits to prevent homelessness, eliminate sleeping rough, meet long term housing needs, ensure effective services for homeless people and provide better coordinated funding. The plan is ambitious and this is a good thing.


“However leading housing groups and homeless NGOs have been highly critical of the strategy primarily because it does not include an implementation plan detailing how the strategy would be rolled out, by whom and to what cost.


“This is where political will needs to step up and get the job done. If Fianna Fáil believed in developing a society that is equal and just basic rights to food, shelter and security of person for all our citizens would have been delivered a decade ago. Delivering strategy documents is the easy part of being in government, what makes you worth your salt is actually delivering them.


“So what needs to be done? The government needs to produce an implementation plan for its Way Home strategy. It needs to ensure the right policies influence the right legislation. It must oversee stakeholders working together to a shared objective. The necessary funding must be in place to help the right people the right way.


“To date Fianna Fáil led government’s have had a shameful record on meeting social housing needs in general with the needs of the homeless worse affected. It has failed to meet social housing targets by as much as 40% in recent years helping to artificially inflate the property market, as well as leaving thousands of people including children in bed and breakfasts, sub standard over priced private accommodation and in too many instances on the streets.


“But this can be turned around. Fianna Fáil’s government partners have been shamefully quiet on this issue and also have a heavy responsibility to end the wrong of homelessness. Every night of every day of every year that one of our people has to sleep rough is the fault of every government Minister and backbencher. They have the power to end homelessness. But they chose not to. There is no excuse. There is no acceptable rationale.


“Fianna Fáil and the Green Party need to remember their political mandates. They need to remember who gave them that mandate. A sustainable prosperous economy can only be built on foundations that are just and equal.  The government may not recognise this, but the people do. It’s time for government to listen to its people.” ENDS


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