You may have read Kitty Holland’s story in the Irish Times this morning about Sabrina McMahon and her three children who have spent a week living in her car in Tallaght.
Ms McMahon has been on the South Dublin Council’s housing waiting list for more than a year and she said that, while she has tried to to find private rented accommodation, she hasn’t been able to find a landlord who’ll accept rent allowance.
In the Dáil on April 16, Independent TD Catherine Murphy voiced her concerns about a similar situation, saying:
Those from the Simon Community indicated that the problem in respect of housing has reached crisis levels. It is no longer just people who have – I hate to use this word – traditionally been considered homeless who have nowhere to go. In that context, I am aware of increasing numbers of families, particularly those with children, who are being made homeless. The representatives from both organisations indicated that the crisis to which I refer is on the verge of becoming a disaster. I do not know what we have to do to get the media to pay attention to what is happening to a significant number of people. I met a family last week – I deal with such families every week – who slept in a car with their child. They approached the local authority and asked what they should do the following night and they were told to find a relative or friend with whom they could stay. The family in question has been homeless for eight weeks. I could give a litany of people who are in the same position. The Minister and the Government are in denial.
Figures from the Department of the Environment last December show there are almost 90,000 families waiting for social housing.
Further to this, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore was asked by reporters about the issues facing Ireland’s private rental sector with his comments broadcast on RTÉ News At One.
“Well the Government is addressing it. You are right: there is a very serious housing problem and it’s particularly impacting people who are in the private rental sector. We’ve taken a number of initiatives already this year. For the first time since the beginning of the recession we have recommenced a public housing programme, we’ve made provision for that, in last year’s Budget. Just last week we launched a new initiative to get back into circulation those dwellings that are boarded up. I think one of them was frustrating things for somebody who’s on a housing list is to be looking at a boarded-up house which has been there for months and sometimes more, for years. And I think Jan O’Sullivan last week made €15million available to local authorities to speed up the reallocation of boarded-up dwellings. There’s almost 1,000 of them that can be put back into circulation very quickly which would address the problem. We’re also addressing it in the context of the construction strategy that the Government is working on.”
H/T: Oireachtas Retort