News & Events
Peter McVerry Trust has said the homeless situation will only get worse unless everyone in the next Government is committed to ending long term homelessness. The charity made the comments three years to the day since the Government promised to end long term homelessness before the end of 2016, a commitment that the charity says will definitely not be achieved.
Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust, said “It is now three years since the homelessness policy statement was published and unfortunately long term homelessness will not be eliminated as promised in 2016. The overall homeless figure continues to rise despite a record number of people leaving homelessness in 2015. In fact, even though an estimated 2,000 people left homelessness last year there were still 5,400 people homeless at year end a net increase of 1,500 people. This points to a huge number of people becoming homeless, which is fundamentally undermining efforts to end long term homelessness and the need to sleep rough.”
“While the Government can rightly point to increases in funding for homeless services, that funding is simply ensuring that there are enough resources to respond to the emergency levels of homelessness. It is also creating a shelter led, not housing led response and in effect it simply sees more people placed in various forms of expensive emergency accommodation.”
“The main causes of most new homeless cases are clear. The private rental market continues to haemorrhage tenants, hundreds of children are exiting residential care settings without any aftercare supports, people are being forced to leave unsafe and overcrowded accommodation, and vulnerable people are exiting hospital and prison settings. All these groups are funnelling into a very stretched homeless system.”
Mr Doyle said that Peter McVerry Trust is now concerned that the unresolved mortgage arrears issue will become a major cause of new homeless cases in 2016 once the election. “The mortgage arrears issue is likely to provide the next large wave of people into homelessness. We know that between 2014 and 2015 there was an 80% increase in repossessed family homes. The number of buy to let properties in arrears remains over 30,000 and we know financial institutions are evicting sitting tenants to secure vacant possession. Many of those tenants will have nowhere to go but into homeless services while the unit they once rented will likely sit empty for a long period of time until the banks see fit to put it on the market.”
Concluding Mr Doyle said “Unless there is a realistic and urgent response to the homeless emergency, we could see homeless numbers rise to unprecedented levels. Another year like 2015 would see 7,000 people in homelessness, this at a time when the Irish economy is supposed in a state of recovery.”
The charity has set out 8 key areas that it wants the next Government to prioritise in order to tackle the homeless emergency including holding a referendum on the right to a home, overhauling planning and procurement issues that are holding up social housing delivery, strengthening the ability of local authorities to tackle vacant sites and buildings and investment in children and youth services are among their priority issues.