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Government needs to act now to solve chronic homelessness crisis – Ní Riada

16 January, 2015 - by Liadh Ní Riada MEP

Speaking in Cork following a series of engagements today, Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland's South constituency Liadh Ní Riada called on all levels of Government to seriously commit to addressing the chronic homelessness crisis that is affecting the country.

“Today I met with key service managers in both the Simon Community and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in relation to the ongoing homelessness crisis in Cork and across the country. I was also briefed on the current housing situation in Cork by Sinn Féin City Councillors Mick Nugent and Henry Cremin.”

“The homelessness situation in Cork is at crisis levels and is set to get much worse according to those working with people experiencing homelessness and those at risk of becoming homeless. The Simon community registered a sixty percent increase in numbers sleeping rough last year, and the indications are this figure will rise through 2015.”

“Already emergency accommodation is full across the city, and this trend is mirrored across the country more generally. The St. Vincent de Paul have waiting lists for both their city-based facilities, and the incidence of rough sleeping is increasing week on week.”

“At the core of this increase is a housing shortage. There simply are not enough social housing units or indeed private rental accommodation to meet the demand. Rent caps are set too low, and a history of Government inaction on social housing projects is matched by a lack of political will at local level.”

“Experts agree that those presenting at emergency accommodation facilities represent the tip of the iceberg and that many more families and individuals are living day to day at the risk of destitution. Many young people are sleeping on couches, and families are packed into cramped and unhealthy living conditions. As the banks turn their attention this year to pursuing homeowners in the courts, the current crisis looks set to get much worse.”

“The failure by Government to tackle this chronic shortage of housing is causing untold human suffering and is storing up massive social problems for years to come. We need action from Government at national and local level. Rent caps need to be increased. We need capital investment to refurbish existing social housing units, and we need to see a robust, workable and fully resourced housing policy implemented nationwide.   We need a social housing building programme that delivers more and faster than what has been announced by government. Sinn Féin has been to the fore in arguing for this, but so far government has failed to listen and failed to act.”

“Services are under tremendous strain. Families are at breaking point, and homelessness is set to increase day by day unless action is taken now.”

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