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Empty Council Houses Unfit for Homeless?


Empty Council Houses Unfit for Homeless?

A home is more than a place of shelter and comfort. It is a place where a person feels safe, loved and content, as the old saying goes ‘home is where the heart is’. So knowing this, it saddens me to hear the news that another homeless man has died on our streets.

The man in his mid 30’s was found dead in Dawson Lane on Friday 26th September 2015. This was near the vicinity where 43 year old Jonathan Corrie was found dead last year on a cold winter’s night, just three weeks before Christmas. Following Jonathan’s death, the Government had vowed to do something about the growing number of homeless people in Dublin city, and throughout Ireland. Now a second homeless person has died in Dublin city. This year the problem has actually increased rather than decreased.

According to Fianna Fáil Environment spokesman, Barry Cowen, there are 2,600 vacant council houses throughout Ireland. He has called this discovery ‘shocking’. He said “It is utterly senseless to have so many properties lying vacant while spending such enormous funds fire-fighting the crisis through the provision of emergency homeless accommodation.” “Ultimately this means building more homes in the right places,” “Government policy is pushing more and more families off the edge of the private sector into the pit of homelessness.”

Cork has the highest number of vacant houses, with the city and county having 424 and 268, respectively. In Dublin city there are 238, which is around the same number as last year. Dun Laoighaire-Rathdown has 28, Fingal 37, and South Dublin 36. Galway has 224, while Kerry, Donegal, Mayo, Roscommon, Tipperary and Sligo have 100 each.

De Paul Ireland, a homeless charity, said that in the past year the demand for their services has increased by 65 percent. This is mainly due to people being unable to afford the increase in private rent. According to De Paul CEO Kerry Anthony there are 700 families and 1,500 children who are in homeless shelters in Ireland. She said that this is a humanitarian crisis and she is concerned that this situation will keep growing.

She added “the family numbers have more than doubled compared to this time last year, which is chronic.” “Obviously the impact that living in temporary hostel type accommodation is going to have on children now and in later life is significant.” “Supply is the fundamental issue. That is the bottom line because there is not enough social housing available.”

How can the Government continue to let this crisis escalate and what are we going to do about it on a humanitarian level? Personally I feel overwhelmed when I see the countless number of people suffering in silence. Because it does feel like they are being conveniently forgotten about, in the hope that they will magically disappear into the background. I feel that the Government just wants to brush this problem under the carpet, and pretend that it is not happening, when it is obviously apparent to the average onlooker. How many more people have to die on our streets before the Government takes action to solve this harrowing problem?

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