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Labour must act to stop rent supplement families losing homes - Dessie Ellis TD

20 May, 2014 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has called on Labour Ministers to work together in Cabinet to ensure that no more families in receipt of Rent Supplement are made homeless due to the unrealistic rent limits in place.

He made his comments following two separate statements by the Minister for Housing, Jan O'Sullivan, in which she said Community Welfare Officers (CWOs) should be instructed to break rent limits when families are at threat of losing their homes.

Deputy Ellis said:

"The Minister and her party are finally coming around to the fact that we have a crisis on our hands and that emergency measures must now be taken. I have been raising these issues for the last two years and action is urgently needed.

"We need to increase the levels of emergency accommodation but we also need to prevent the increase in homelessness by keeping people in their homes.

"Rent supplement recipients are being evicted due to rent increases caused by huge demand and because far too little housing is available. CWOs should be instructed to break limits in emergency situations. This would protect families from eviction but would also be a financial saving without the necessity for costly emergency accommodation.

"The Minister for Housing, during recent radio interviews, has twice stated her support for such a measure and the Labour Party should take action without delay to see that Minister Joan Burton implements this.

"It makes no sense to increase emergency accommodation without doing anything to stop the growing homeless numbers due to the rent supplement.

"The longer term solution is to provide actual secure housing through the local authorities but in the meantime we need to stem the flow of people from Rent Supplement into emergency accommodation."

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