independent

Wednesday 22 January 2020

An Post figures reveal true extent of homelessness

Simon Bourke

Figures released by An Post have revealed the extent of 'hidden homelessness' throughout County Wexford.

Since April of last year people in Wexford with no fixed abode have been able to list their local Post Office as their home address, thus ensuring they have a collection point for important mail and other personal documents.

And, according to An Post, there are 104 people in Wexford currently availing of this service, with only Dublin (1,436), Cork (231), Galway (194) and Kildare (119) having more.

In November of last year, just 37 people linked in with Wexford County Council's homeless services.

Addressing the An Post figures, Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Forde said the true extent of homelessness in the county still wasn't known.

'These figures are scandalous and they understate the issue because they don't include the people sofa surfing, living in refuge centres, bed and breakfasts.

'Wexford County Council do the best they can with the limited resources they have, but these figures don't come as a surprise to me; I'm constantly engaging with homeless people in town,' said Cllr Forde.

And the Wexford Town Councillor believed some of his fellow politicians were 'in denial' when it came to homelessness in the county.

'It's a huge problem in the county and I think there's a bit of denial among some of our TDs as to the extent of the crisis. We had one former Fine Gael candidate saying there was no homeless crisis in Wexford recently, this throws that out the window,' said Cllr Forde.

Independent Councillor Leonard Kelly said these figures showed there was still a significant number of homeless people in the county who weren't engaging with local services.

'This is closer to the real figure, and shows there are a number of people who aren't engaging with the homeless services,' said Cllr Kelly.

'Unfortunately it's also a reflection of the current government's failure to deal with the homeless crisis over the last seven years, and the fact they haven't built enough social housing.

It seems like they're playing a long game in the hope the problem will fix itself,' he said.

With 2,803 people across the country using their local Post Office as a personal address, Independent Councillor Davy Hynes believes this is an issue which needs to be addressed centrally.

'I'd be the first to say Wexford County Council has done a lot, and it has done a lot in terms of houses, but as soon as houses are built there's people ready to move into them,' said Cllr Hynes.

'There's not enough social houses being provided. People are caught in the system with little way out and we're relying on landlords to provide housing for them.'

Placing the blame squarely at the door of those in power, Cllr Hynes said the local council was doing all it could to alleviate the housing problem in the county.

'These figures are an indication that Wexford is not in a good place in spite of the efforts of the council. But it comes back to the Government and them putting the blame on the councils.

'They're not up to it, they're not doing the work, and people should remember that when it comes to the election. Developers, banks and landlords, that's who Fine Gael are interested in, not the people,' Cllr Hynes concluded.

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