25/11/2008 A member of the Homeless community on M

Homelessness rises as rents shoot up

By Colm McCarthy

The latest statistics released by Daft.ie showing a 10.4% increase in the cost of rental accommodation in the last year is the latest in a series demonstrating the extent of the homeless crisis. The report shows that in Dublin there has been a 36% increase in rent since the summer of 2011.

This has led to an increase in homelessness. Over 60 families are made homeless each month with many thousands more at risk. There are currently over 1,100 children in emergency accommodation in the capital.

Government’s astounding arrogance

Whilst at its most stark there, this problem is far from being limited to Dublin with Cork for example seeing a four-fold increase in the numbers of people sleeping rough over the last four years, and a 11% increase in the numbers of people availing of emergency accommodation last year.

The government’s response has been on the one hand to blame homeless charities for not doing enough and on the other to throw money at landlords. With the astounding arrogance that typifies so much of his style the Minister for Environment, Alan Kelly, accused homeless campaigners of having nothing positive to say while Labour backbencher Joanna Tuffy criticised them for “not stepping up to the plate”.

Massaging the waiting lists

This can be seen by their move to promote schemes like the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), which seeks to reduce numbers on the social housing waiting list to be “adequately housed” if they go on the scheme. This in reality, is just a continuation of rent allowance and an accountancy trick to massage down Local Authority housing waiting list.

It should come as no surprise that the governments first impulse in “solving” the housing crisis is to give more money to landlords when you consider that a quarter of TDs are themselves landlords and have no problem looking after themselves and their own class.

A ban on evictions and an introduction of rent controls are required steps to tackle the crisis that sees thousands of people living in fear of losing their home.

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