Protest calls for measures to tackle homelessness

Homeless families held a protest about Ireland’s housing crisis today.

With the backing of Paul Murphy MEP and the Anti-Austerity Alliance, who helped organise the Dublin-based protest, they called for rent controls, the building of new homes and an end to discrimination against people on rent allowance.

The protest was the brainchild of Gwen Connell and Tamara Kearns who have both had personal experience of homelessness.

Ms Connell, who was forced out of her home due to a €400 rent hike, said: “There is a massive housing crisis in the country at the moment, which is particularly severe in Dublin.

“Anyone who is trying to find rental accommodation will know that rents have increased massively over the last year or so.

“This and the lack of housing is resulting in families becoming homeless.

“It’s time for the Government to act. They are allowing landlords to abuse the system and are wasting huge amounts of money putting homeless families up in hotels. There are 90,000 people on the housing waiting list, we need the immediate building of social and affordable housing, release the Nama houses and to introduce rent controls.”

Ms Kearns, who was forced along with her family into a homeless unit after they were unable to keep up with their rent, said: “My family and I have been homeless since October last year. We could no longer afford to keep up the price of rent. We do not receive rent supplement and we are not entitled to help from the social welfare.

“Our lives have been turned upside down. Our children are finding it hard to settle and have nowhere to play. Our daughter has had to change school, we don’t know for how long.

“I contacted all the so called ’right people’ and was left stunned by the lack of a decent response.”

Councillor Ruth Coppinger of the Anti-Austerity Alliance called on the Government to “act immediately” to solve the housing crisis while Mr Murphy claimed that cuts to housing budgets would not help families who are on the housing waiting list for years.

He suggested that massive state investment is needed to provide homes.

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