'We have lost our sense of outrage' says Peter McVerry as number of homeless children in Ireland revealed

Close to 3,000 children were homeless in Ireland at the end of last month.

The Department of Housing has published the latest figures which show there were 1,312 homeless families, with 2,777 children categorised as homeless.

The Government target of moving families out of hotel and B&B accommodation by the end of June has been missed.

Campaigner Peter McVerry said that there was public outrage when the number of homeless children first passed the 1,000 mark in 2015.

"Then in early 2016, the number of homeless children passed the 2,000 mark, and there wasn't a murmur," he said.

"We can't just become used to these homeless figures, and they no longer offend us. We have lost our sense of outrage.

"We are the 14th wealthiest country in the world - it is absolutely unacceptable that so many people and so many children should be homeless."

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government Eoghan Murphy responded to the figures saying: "While there is good progress being made and a range of interventions and supports are in place that are being led by a range of agencies, it’s still a significant challenge and I am considering new policy options and responses to ensure that we can quickly realise the target of no new families presenting as homeless being accommodated in hotels, and those families currently there being offered more sustainable solutions.

"I will continue to liaise with the local authority chief executives in the coming weeks.

"Of course, there are some families in hotels that have exceptional and individual needs and these will continue to receive support in their existing temporary accommodation until a specific solution tailored to their needs is put in place."

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD accused the Government of utterly failing homeless families

“I am calling on Minister Eoghan Murphy to urgently introduce an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act drafted by Focus Ireland last December, which was previously rejected by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil,” said the Dublin Mid-West TD.

“This amendment would prevent buy-to-let landlords, who took advantage of substantial tax breaks when purchasing their properties, from issuing vacant possession notices to families when they want to sell the property. This measure alone would prevent more families from becoming homeless and would keep properties on the rental market.

“This should be done in conjunction with a more ambitious and aggressive vacant property purchase programme that would specifically target homeless families.

"Enough is enough. At what figure does the number of homeless children need to rise to before this government gets serious about providing sustainable solutions to the problem.”

KEYWORDS: homelessness


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