Taoiseach admits housing crisis not acceptable

Monday 19 May 2014 21.40
1 of 2
Enda Kenny said the Government is determined to respond to homelessness crisis urgently
Enda Kenny said the Government is determined to respond to homelessness crisis urgently
Barnardos has called on ministers to address issues such as rising rents
Barnardos has called on ministers to address issues such as rising rents

The Taoiseach has said the number of people becoming homeless on a daily basis is not sustainable or acceptable, and said the Government will deal with it. 

Speaking in Athlone this afternoon, Mr Kenny said he listened to the comments of Fr Peter McVerry at the weekend.

He said the Government was responding through provision of social housing by direct-build by local authorities and by putting another €50m towards homelessness.

Mr Kenny said the Government is determined to respond to the phenomenon of homelessness in an urgent fashion but he said it is not possible to provide instant homes overnight.

The Taoiseach said he noted the comments that up to five individuals or one family are becoming homeless on a daily basis. 

Meanwhile. the head of one of the country's leading children's charities has called on the Government to invest if necessary in "commandeering" vacant hotels to address the homelessness problem.

Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay said the Government needed to start really listening to people who have been warning for a long time about the emergence of the housing crisis.

Mr Finlay told journalists in Dublin that what he called the current housing crisis risks becoming a full-blown epidemic.

He described a "perfect storm" involving years of under investment in social housing, cuts to rent supplement and the rising level of rents on the private market.

He and colleagues in the charity described inappropriate emergency B&B accommodation which some families must live in because they are homeless and said it was having a serious effect on the children concerned.

One family spent five hours getting their children to and from school.

He conceded that the Government would be announcing a plan to address the problem tomorrow but said that from the information available to him it would lack the required urgency.

He said ministers should if necessary "commandeer" vacant hotels to address the crisis, and said such hotels existed in West Dublin.

He said that if the Government commandeered a number of vacant hotels in West Dublin, Barnardos and similar voluntary organisations would provide support for families who might be moved into such premises.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Finlay said the country is witnessing the beginning of an explosion in children becoming homeless as part of the family unit.

He said that there has been an increase in the numbers of children in such situations from single digits figures to hundreds.