Homelessness call over empty houses
Homelessness could be almost halved immediately if the Government kept its promise to hand over empty homes under the control of the State's toxic assets agency, it has been claimed.
Focus Ireland, one of the country's leading homeless organisations, said it could also "virtually eliminate" the stark problem of entire families without a home if the will was there among the Cabinet.
Environment minister Phil Hogan vowed to give 2,000 homes under the control of the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) over to social housing a year-and-a-half ago.
But Mike Allen, the charity's director of advocacy, said both the coalition and the 'bad bank' were more concerned with getting a cash return than alleviating the deepening homelessness problem.
"The promise of 2,000 homes was announced like it was a Christmas present in late 2011. Virtually none of them have been delivered yet," he said.
There are an estimated 5,000 people who are currently homeless in the Republic. Official figures show more than 160 families are homeless in Dublin alone.
A small minority of these are sleeping rough, with about 80 people on the streets on any given night in the capital.
Mr Allen accepted there were some legal hurdles to handing over Nama properties, but insisted the taxpayer-owned agency could shortcut its own processes to speed up the release of empty homes.
"We think they can make a larger contribution than they currently do," he said.
"They need to be less concerned about the rights of the bankrupt developers and more concerned with delivering the social dividend."