Housing becoming a national scandal
Seeing those young boys trying to sleep on hard chairs in a garda station was upsetting for many people and had the effect of making us think again about the homeless crisis. We have a housing problem and a homeless problem, caused by an inadequate housing supply to cater for a great demand. Increasing supply takes time, 18 months to two years we are told. But the problem is we have been told that for at least the last two years and little has changed. As such, the housing crisis is fast becoming a national scandal.
What has changed in those two years is the nature of the homeless crisis. For while in the past, those sleeping rough were mainly substance abusers, they now include large numbers of women and children who have to avail of garda stations when no other accommodation is available.
One thing that hasn't changed is the apparent capacity of the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive to raise the temperature in any debate on this issue. Remember when it was critical of volunteers giving out soup and sandwiches to those who sleep in doorways? Well last week the Executive not only raised the spectre of moving the homeless out of the capital to facilitate the visit of Pope Francis, but also suggested that the homeless problem was being aggravated by allowing asylum seekers to stay here.