Action call over housing crisis
The coalition Government could stop families becoming homeless at the stroke of a pen to allow welfare payments keep pace with rocketing rents, one of the country's leading homelessness campaigners has said.
Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, of Focus Ireland, said 800 children and their families were made homeless in the first 10 months of this year, with 45 families losing their homes in Dublin alone last month.
Pointing to the soaring rents as the main problem, particularly in the capital, the charity founder said the Fine Gael/Labour administration was simply not doing enough to help people cope with the accommodation crisis.
"The Government has voiced concern on the issue but the simple truth is it could stop more families and single people losing their homes tomorrow with the stroke of a pen by raising rent supplement to match market rents," she said.
"They have taken some action which has helped some families which is welcome, but not enough is being done at all."
Rents have risen by 15% in Dublin over the past year, and even sharper in the city centre, up by 17%, according to a report by property website Daft.
Sr Stanislaus said families and single people struggle to keep up with their payments but in the end many lose the battle and become homeless.
Official figures released on Friday show people sleeping rough in Dublin has soared by a fifth over the past year.
The latest survey by the city council identified 168 homeless people who will be sleeping on the streets over the coming winter.
Launching its Christmas appeal, Focus Ireland said it urgently needs public donations to help the charity tackle the crisis over the coming weeks.
"It would break your heart to see where many children and their families who are homeless are being forced to stay," said Sr Stanislaus.
"Losing a home is more than a family can bear.
"Some families who are homeless are squeezed into tiny hotel rooms - five or six people in one room, nowhere to cook or for children to play.
"And it's not just families. There are many single people and couples who are homeless as well and they all need a place to call home."
The charity said demand for its services grew by 25% last year as it helped more than 10,000 people who were made homeless or at risk of losing their home.