Belfast Telegraph

Plan for major national demonstration against homelessness policies

Campaigners have called for people to take to the streets for a mass protest against Government policies on the homelessness problem.

The National Homeless and Housing Coalition (NHHC) has arranged what it described as a "major national demonstration" on Saturday April 7.

Community groups, housing charities and a number of political parties assembled in the Mansion House in Dublin on Tuesday to make the joint call.

Accusing the Government of a "piecemeal and reactionary" response to the "human catastrophe" of Ireland's homeless problem, they demanded "real and meaningful solutions".

The campaigners called for a dramatic change in the number of social homes constructed by the state and urged the re-use of empty houses and apartments in the interim.

The announcement was made as a concert was staged outside the Dail to highlight the issue.

Activist Peter McVerry said the situation was "out of control".

"People are beginning to feel hopeless," he said.

"Even working people don't have the money to pay the rents being demanded.

"The solution is obvious, the provision of public housing. And there are two ways to do that - build public housing at the same rates as the 1970s, use the empty houses and apartments even before the new dwellings can be built.

"The emphasis on the private sector is absurd. We have to get political as well as providing services to the homeless. We need all the relevant and concerned organisations to come together in a united front to address this terrible emergency."

Aisling Hedderman, from the Dublin Bay North Housing Crisis group, said: "Every day in our areas we see more and more people forced into homelessness or overcrowding. All around us are neighbours who stand no chance of affordable public housing.

"It is time to come out in great numbers and demand housing as a right."

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