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Friday 29 August 2014

Sr Stan: 39 families lost their homes in capital last month

Denise Calnan

Published 10/07/2014 | 07:38

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sr. stanislaus kennedy
Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy

THE issue of homelessness in 2014 is the worst it’s been in 30 years, with more than one family a day in the capital losing their home last month, according to a leading campaigner.

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The shocking statistic is the result of low State-subsidised rents that remain unattractive to landlords, a lack of rent regulation and an absence in investment in the social housing building programme, the President of Focus Ireland has said.

With the numbers of families becoming homeless rising month on month, a total of 39 families lost their homes in Dublin in June of this year.

 “The eighties were bad but I wouldn’t even compare them with today,” President of Focus Ireland  Sr Stanislaus Kennedy told independent.ie.

“The condition of people out and the numbers of people out homeless are far worse.

“The main difference is now it is whole families losing their homes. As well as the number of families, it is the size of the families that are now homeless.

“The other difference is it wasn’t an economic problem in the eighties, it was a circumstantial problem. Now it is an economic issue,” she continued.

“I remember a trip to Paris when I could see families on the side of the streets in these shanty towns and I thought ‘Ireland isn’t like this’, but now it is.”

Sr Stanilaus said the ‘stop-gap response’ of B&B accommodation has become ‘a way of life’ for families as they find themselves living there with no cooking facilities for up to two years.

“Children are being reared in these surroundings and have no stability,” she said.

“We humans like to have certain stability and know what’s coming next, we like a stable environment.

“These families can’t move into rented accommodation, they can’t afford it.”

Furthermore, the lack of awareness of the issue is a result of it being ‘a hidden problem’ in society, the president of the agency for homeslessness believes.

“I think sometimes we don’t see problems until we see solutions,” she said.

“We can’t bear to look at a problem if we don’t know a way out.

“The other reason it’s not being talked about is because a lot of people are only a slight bit away from this extreme, it might only be a pay-cheque away and they just can’t bear to contemplate it.

“It’s a more of a hidden problem as well because families that are homeless don’t look any different to the rest of us.

“They aren’t living on the streets like you would see before.”

And the solution is a lot simpler than most think, she said.

 “They could improve the rent and regulation in the next Budget and start the building now.

“Building homes will take time but they could start it now, but I don’t see any plan in place.

“I believe Joan Burton will pull it off [as new leader of Labour party]. I have great respect for her.

“Her challenge is to get the Cabinet on her side and I think she has the leadership skills to do that.”

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