Belfast Telegraph

Government accused over homeless

The Government is set to break its commitment to end long-term homelessness, it has been claimed.

With eight weeks to go until the end of the year Fine Gael said the target of taking people off the streets and out of emergency accommodation by 2010 had not been met.

Housing spokesman Terence Flanagan called for new targets to eradicate the problem, claiming it would not go away by ignoring it.

"Like many of the serious economic problems facing Ireland, the Government is hoping that things will fix themselves in the long run," Mr Flanagan said. "This type of governance can't continue. Problems need to be solved, not ignored and that is why it is time for political change in this country."

In 2008 Housing Minister Michael Finneran vowed that by 2010 no homeless person would be sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation for more than six months. Arguing that emergency accommodation was neither suitable in the long-term nor the most effective use of resources, Mr Finneran promised adequate access to social housing lettings.

But Mr Flanagan said the target of creating 1,200 tenancies this year would not be met.

Bernard Cantillon, Chair of Labour Equality, said around 250,000 houses lie empty while homelessness continues to rise. "This is the crazy legacy of the wealthiest period in Irish history, which was presided over by a Fianna Fail government," Mr Cantillon said. "Nearly 100,000 people are on local authority waiting lists for housing, yet ghost estates blight the country.

Meanwhile, national housing charity Threshold will on Tuesday launch its annual report which will highlight increasing problems of poor accommodation standards and illegal evictions. The body is calling for reforms of the private rented sector.

Aideen Hayden, Threshold chairwoman, said the state last year spent 500 million euro on rent supplement yet tenants were facing difficulties with landlords and poor accommodation.

"It's vital that the state takes a more proactive relationship in negotiating rents and exercising more of a role in determining what landlords - based on compliance with standards - can qualify to participate in the rent supplement scheme," Ms Hayden said.

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