Thursday 27 October 2016

Homelessness is now a national emergency

Published 28/09/2015 | 02:30

Homelessness isn't just a Dublin problem, or a city problem
Homelessness isn't just a Dublin problem, or a city problem

In the capital, their dead bodies lie undiscovered for hours. In rural areas, the homeless - those who can't 'couch surf' or sleep on the floors of the homes of family and friends - are sleeping in wheelie bins, hay sheds and cars. It is unconscionable and entirely preventable.

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Ireland's housing shortage has turned a persistent homelessness crisis into a national emergency, one that cannot be swept away by politically managed tidings of good economic news in the mouth of a General Election campaign.

Homelessness is a multi-faceted problem, one that is exacerbated by factors such as addiction and mental health issues.

However, the roots of the current crisis lie in a shortage of housing and a private rental sector that is utterly dysfunctional - many of our new homeless are those who have been locked out of the private rental sector because of spiralling rents.

The Government has failed to prioritise and invest in social housing, as well as new builds. Its overall housing strategy is marked by a lack of urgency, one that is costing lives - and politically it could cost them dearly in the months ahead.

Irish Independent

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