Homeless stories show crisis must be tackled
Imagine a little boy of nine years of age, unable to walk, being housed in a guest house, with steps. He falls constantly; his mother has a bad back from having to lift him, and he feels twice as bad, for he can see the pain written into the lines of her face. You don't have to imagine because this is one of the stories in our Dublin of 2017. Stories that would have fit neatly into the pages of Charles Dickens in 1843. Recognising every statistic is a human story, the Inner City Helping Homelessness campaign 'My Name is' includes pictures of some of the 3,000 children who are homeless here.
Next month, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy will publish the Government's third major housing policy in four years. But we don't really need any more policies, we need more houses. In recent years, 29 initiatives have been announced and all have failed. The much-hyped Rebuilding Ireland is the latest strategy intended to eliminate homelessness by 2021. There is nothing to suggest it will meet with any more success than any of its ill-fated predecessors. Although targets have been set, the recent homelessness total is 7,941, an increase of 25pc from last year. Mr Murphy has already waved a white flag and accepted it will not be possible to end the practice of placing homeless families in hotels and bed and breakfasts.
It gets even more depressing, for there are 90,000 on the social housing waiting list. The Government has undertaken to deliver 47,000 units by 2021. Yet last year, only 650 social houses were built. Some 2,400 may be built this year, and we may be making some progress, but it is too little.