Monday 11 December 2017

Taoiseach says 'common sense' must be applied to homeless crisis

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted that “common sense” must be applied in response to the growing homelessness crisis.

Mr Kenny said that local authorities had a responsibility provide any homeless person or family with shelter, insisting if they did not have the funds to do so, more would be made available.

He said of the €37m made available as an initial payment to the four Dublin local authorities to deal with the matter, only €23m has been drawn down.

“If further monies are required they will be made available,” he added.

He said the system that operates with the department of social welfare and the housing assistance programme was there for all to avail of and could be dealt with by community welfare officers on a case by case basis.

“If a family becomes homeless in Dublin this evening as a result of being moved out of a B&B or for whatever reason the local authority involved, of one of the four, have the resources to supply emergency accommodation for that family,” he added.

Speaking in Mayo today, at the laying of the transatlantic fibre optic cable, Mr Kenny insisted this was not a question of money or resources but said  bed and breakfasts and hotel accommodation were “not suitable long term accommodation for families where mothers and children are concerned”.

“It is a case of having joined up thinking, common sense and a response to emergencies as they arise. Every local authority has a responsibility to determine whether a family or individual becomes homeless. In that case they are given the resources and if they haven't got them they will be supplied to them to deal with the question as they arise,” he added.

The Taoiseach said the government was committing to addressing the longer term problem by supplying more housing, saying that came in three different forms, refurbishment of empty units, implementation of the social housing programme and through the private construction sector.

“[The] government will come, as Minister Kelly pointed out, with a package of measures very quickly to government which will come before the Cabinet sub-committe,” he added.

Asked about the problem in the immediate days and weeks, the Taoiseach insisted beds must be made available immediately when needed.

“If a family becomes homeless this evening, the local authority in that family's area have a responsibility to determine if it is homelessness and secondly they have the resources to have emergency accommodation provided for them,” he said.

Mr Kenny said he understood 120 people were sleeping rough on Thursday night.

“I'm not sure how many of those were families but let me repeat that the crisis now is in respect of bed and breakfast and hotel accommodation which are not suitable long term accommodation for families where mothers and children are concerned.

“As the Minister pointed out today this is not a question of a crisis of resources, €37m was made available as the initial payment for the local authorities in Dublin and I understand that €23m of that has been drawn down. If further monies are required they will be made available,” he added.

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