With so much happening in the past few years with crisis after crisis it seemed convenient to ignore the quietly growing monster that is homelessness.
We are looking into a crisis in terms of homelessness – each day Dublin City Council is spending thousands to put families into hotels and B&B’s. Recent news stories of families living in their cars shows that even this isn’t enough anymore, more has to be done. Equally many people become trapped in a cycle of emergency accommodation, not able to move on and get a stable life back.
Behind this is a deeper crisis in terms of housing. We need more social and affordable housing in Dublin, this is good for those who cannot afford housing but also helps prevent runaway rent prices for everyone by releasing the pressure of demand. Due to this unreleased pressure that exists at the minute we face spiralling rents which alongside cuts to rent supplement have made it almost impossible for many families to get anywhere to rent, and has increased the financial burden on those who are currently renting.
The spiralling prices in south Dublin look like another bubble, we need to learn the lessons of the Celtic tiger years and we need a comprehensive national housing policy for the first time. Housing is a basic necessity and should be treated as that, not as a commodity to be exploited.
I have worked on the ground with homeless services for adult and children, I have worked in vulnerable communities. I want to do more for these people and believe we need to address both our crisis of homelessness and our deeper housing problems.
The latest policy framework adopts a “Housing First” approach, where regardless of circumstances a house is provided and supports to keep you in the house and address any personal difficulties are put in place. While this system has been shown to work well in other countries it relies on having a supply of houses and homes to put people in. In my dealings for work with officials I have been told that the waiting time in Dublin City Council is 10 years, while Dun Laoghire Rathdown has a waiting time of 14 years. This is simply not good enough. A “Housing First” approach will fail without houses.