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Tuesday 16 September 2014

‘Tsunami of homelessness’ beyond crisis point, warns campaigner

Published 18/05/2014 | 12:21

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Fr Peter McVerry says the housing shortage in Ireland is 'beyond crisis point'
Fr Peter McVerry says the housing shortage in Ireland is 'beyond crisis point'

Social justice campaigner Fr Peter McVerry has claimed the "tsunami of homelessness" is the worst he has ever seen.

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He said that in his 40 years working with homeless people in Dublin, the housing shortage has never been as problematic as it is now and is being forced into turning people away due to a lack of capacity.

His charity – The Peter McVerry Trust – is struggling to cope with demand and says the problem is getting worse.

Speaking on RTÉ's Sunday with Miriam, he said his charity – The Peter McVerry Trust – is having to turn people away for the first time due to a lack of capacity.

"In all the years I have been working with homeless people; it has never been so bad,” he told RTÉ's Sunday with Miriam.

“We are, even I would say, beyond crisis at this stage.”

“There are six new people becoming homeless every day and that's the official figures. It may be more than that”.

Fr McVerry said with up to 35,000 home repossessions feared over the next few years, the rise in homelessness could bring down the Government.

“There are also 40,000 buy-to-let mortgages in arrears...there is a dam at the end of the river, and this torrent of water is coming down; and there's no way out.”

“Ultimately, because of the changing nature of homelessness, these are ordinary people who will vote, and their families will vote, I think this whole issue of housing and homelessness could bring this government down,” he added.

The crux of the problem according to the campaigner is that the traditional exits from homelessness - social housing and the private rental market - were no longer open to people.

“There is a dearth of social housing. In the cities and in Dublin in particular; the private rental sector is out of reach for homeless people because the rents are escalating; they are going through the roof.”

Fr McVerry has appealed to the current government to make 1,500 houses and apartments available to ease the crisis, adding that it would be far more cost-effective than putting people into hotels, hostels and shelter.

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