THERE are 25 families currently in emergency accommodation in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, according to statistics from Focus Ireland this week.
In addition, there are 5,700 people currently on the waiting list for social housing in the area.
With homelessness at an all time high in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Focus Ireland are calling on the Government to tackle the problem when they return to the Dail in September.
Mike Allen, director of advocacy at Focus Ireland, told The Gazette that they are working with the four local authorities in Dublin to remedy the situation, but, he says, “the problem is getting worse faster than the political response is coming”.
He said: “These are the highest homeless figures we have ever seen. This problem is a consequence of decisions that were made during the boom and the subsequent decisions about how to tackle the problems after the crash.
“When the boom was at its height, there was a belief that the private sector would look after everything, and so a sufficient number of social houses stopped being built.
“When the crash came, the private sector stopped building and at the same time the State decided to slash the social housing budget. So we stopped building social housing completely.”
Allen believes that one of the ways the Government can help is by tackling the issue of landlords who haven’t paid their mortgage for more than a year and are putting their tenants at risk of being evicted.
“Measures need to be introduced whereby if a house is repossessed, the house is still kept in social rental rather than evicting the family who currently live there. This requires a change of legislation, but this could be done in the third week in September when the Dail returns.”
Chair of the housing committee at Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and local Fine Gael councillor John Bailey told The Gazette that he is determined to address the social housing and homeless problem in the area.
He said: “We have funding of €60m to build houses in DLR, but there is a system that you have to go through. It takes time, unfortunately, but we have to address the homeless problem.
“At the moment, we have planning permission to build in areas including Roselawn, Rochestown House and Sandyford, with some other areas in the pipeline too. We’re progressing, and our objective is to build 681 units in the next 12 months.”
Cllr Bailey said he wants to “attack the problem”, but said that “we’re not going to build 5,000 houses overnight; it’s not possible or realistic, but we are addressing the problem”.