Scheme to tackle the homeless crisis blasted

by Gazette Reporter

THE Government has hit back at Sinn Fein over criticism of its proposed rural relocation scheme to tackle homelessness, saying they are dismissing it out of hand without considering its merits.
Cllr Daithi Doolan (SF), chair of Dublin City Council’s housing committee, recently said that introducing a rural resettlement scheme to tackle homelessness in Dublin totally missed the point.
A spokesperson for Environment Minister Alan Kelly has countered that a rural relocation scheme was one of a suite of measures being considered by the Government to help alleviate homelessness.
“This is typical of Sinn Fein, dismissing something out of hand without giving any due consideration to its merits. Perhaps Cllr Doolan might ask why his own party did not propose to put a single cent towards homeless services in Dublin in their pre-budget submission? That policy would have resulted in the closure of homeless services in Dublin and even more families sleeping on the streets,” said the spokesperson.
Recently, Cllr Doolan said: “No amount of spin or press statements will distract from the fact that this Government have failed, utterly, to tackle the homeless crisis in Dublin. We have a homeless crisis not because people have not moved down the country but because consecutive governments have starved local authorities of essential funding to build social housing.
In addition, he said the rural resettlement scheme was successful and hugely popular in the 1990s, as it gave Dublin families a chance to experience a new rural based life and brought new life to many rural towns.
“But to dress it up now as the silver bullet to homelessness just proves how out of touch this Government really is. We now have twice as many people homeless in July this year than we did in June 2014. In July this year 770 adults with 1,185 children were homeless in Dublin while in June 2014 this number was 346 adults and 567 children,” he said.
He said the Government had to take action and introduce rent controls, increase rent allowance and release funding to local authorities so they can commence a building programme to meet the needs of the 21,000 housing applicants on Dublin City Council’s housing list.
In contrast, homeless charity the Peter McVerry Trust was more supportive of the Government’s resettlement proposal.
Speaking to The Gazette, Pat Doyle, trust chief executive, said: “A thoughtful, fully resourced rural resettlement programme could play a small part in helping to meet the needs of homeless Dublin families. However, we have to bear in mind that the social housing crisis is nationwide and homeless figures are growing nationally not just in Dublin.”
He did, however, echo some of Cllr Doolan’s remarks on housing provision.
“It is critical that immediate actions are delivered by Government to keep people in their existing accommodation while accelerating delivery of housing for those in homelessness. The key is not more emergency accommodation; instead resources are needed in the areas of prevention and housing,” he said.

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