18/07/2017

Govt's Homelessness Strategy In Need Of Root And Branch Revision

The government's strategy for tackling homelessness is not working and needs a root and branch revision, Fianna Fáil housing spokesperson Barry Cowen has said.

Deputy Cowen made the comments following the publication of the latest homeless statistics by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive which shows the number of families who are living 'long-term' homeless for over two years has doubled in the past eight months, Deputy Cowen said: "The strategy of relying on the private rental market to transition families out of homelessness – through the HAP scheme – is plainly not enough.

"Since Dec 2014, child and family homelessness has more than trebled with 1,312 families, including 2,777 children,  living in emergency homelessness.

"Moreover, the June Figures show that at least half of the families that fall into homelessness in the Dublin Region are staying there for at least two years.

"This statistic which shows that families are not transitioning out of homelessness is deeply worrying.

''Homeless HAP, the government's flagship scheme introduced in Dublin 2015 to house homeless families in private rental accommodation, is failing drastically to provide secure accommodation for homeless households.

"The Homeless HAP scheme is fundamentally flawed in its design and needs to be reformed.

"Families who accept a HAP tenancy are removed from the social housing waiting list, and are instead placed on the housing transfer list.

"This forces them to choose between accepting an unstable rental accommodation and forgoing their place on the housing list, or remaining in emergency accommodation and retaining the prospect of a more secure social home.

"Understandably, many homeless households are afraid of staking all their bets on the private rental sector, as almost have a history of eviction from insecure rental units in the past.

"In addition, most families know only too well that they will not be able to find a landlord to accept their rent under the HAP scheme.

"HAP needs to be reformed to make it more attractive for landlords and for homeless families.

"But there also needs to be much less reliance on the private rental market to solve the homeless crisis by the Government and much greater emphasis on the construction of more social housing.

"If nothing else, the very fact that spending by local authorities on emergency accommodation has doubled this year – €130m in Dublin alone – yet homelessness continues to rise so drastically demonstrates that something is seriously wrong with the Government's strategy on homelessness."

(MH)

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