Tag Archives: Homeless

This afternoon.

O’Connell Bridge, Dublin 1

Inner City Helping Homeless volunteer Jamie Harrington (with glasses), CEO Anthony Flynn (with beard) and team leader Gerry Carney (white shirt) handing out water, as part of a city-wide programme to ensure homeless people stay hydrated, after Met Eireann issued a status yellow high-temperature warning.

In fairness.

Rollingnews

Paddy Cole, at SIPTU, writes:

An extra 488 children became homeless in Ireland last month, with the total number of families in emergency accommodation now over 1,700.

These new record numbers represent a new low!

That’s one child being made homeless every 3 and a half hours.

Enough is enough – Share our video (above) and join the national homeless and housing demonstration at 1pm from Parnell Square, Dublin 1 on April 7.

A photo shared by RTE’s Morning Ireland reporter Louise Byrne this morning showing hostel accommodation for a new baby 

Charity DePaul has said it has seen a rise in the number of pregnant women accessing their services and witnessed women going into “labour in a one-night only hostel, to then go into hospital and to not know where she can come back to”.

Meanwhile, there are no national figures available for the number of newborn babies who leave hospital to live in homeless accommodation.

The Department of Housing, the Health Service Executive and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive have all confirmed that the number of children in such circumstances is not being collated at a national level.

In a statement, the DRHE said there is a “collaborative support system in place involving homeless services and health and family support services.

“There are a range of specific supported temporary accommodation and family hub type facilities for women with children, including newborns.

“All new mothers are contacted by the public health nurse following the birth of the baby,” it added.

In a statement, the #mynameis campaign, which raises awareness of child homelessness, criticised the absence of national figures.

We have spoken about the indignity of treating children as just statistics but it appears that newborns born into homelessness are not even making it as far as a statistic.

“The State is effectively turning a blind eye to thousands of children,” it added.

Increase in pregnant women accessing homeless hostels (RTÉ)

Pic via Louise Byrne

From top: Emergency Beds for homeless people set up in St Catherine’s Community Sports Centre, Dublin 8 by the Peter McVerry Trust yesterday; Dr Rory Hearne

Homelessness continues to rise and tens of thousands more face potential homelessness from vulture fund take-over of mortgages in arrears.

Despite all the policy documents and plans – the housing and homelessness crisis continues to worsen. And this is five years into an economic ‘recovery’ and the fastest growth rates in Europe.

Despite all the claims of ‘complexity’ the reason we are in this crisis is relatively straightforward, as are the solutions.

The cause lies in the fact that successive governments for almost thirty years have withdrawn from the state directly building and supporting the provision of social and affordable housing.

The years of austerity (2008-2015) saw that policy brought to its ultimate conclusion – the effective cessation of building of social and affordable housing.

The other cause is the prioritisation of the interests of Irish banks, financial institutions and property investors (landlords, developers, vulture funds, Real Estate Investment Funds etc) over the housing needs of people.

Finally, the problem is housing policy is driven by financial and economic goals rather than fulfilling the housing needs and right to housing of our population.

The result – we now rely principally on the private market to supply housing in Ireland.

The problem – the private housing market is made up of multiple competing interests and is inherently dysfunctional, uncoordinated, inefficient and fails to provide ‘affordable’ housing – as its goal is to maximise profits and, therefore, prices and rents.

The result – unacceptable levels of homelessness. Which continue to rise year after year. The latest homelessness figures show another indictment of the continued failure of government policy to deal with crisis.

In the two years since Jan 2016 there are additional 1,437 children homeless – a 78% increase in that two years. That means over two children were made newly homeless every day in this two years.

The figures also show the expanding geographical reach of the homelessness crisis as homelessness increased in 22 out of 26 counties including Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Wicklow, Laois, Westmeath, Limerick, Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Donegal (where it increased by 37%), Waterford (15%), Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Wexford, Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

In the two years since January 2016 there an additional 633 families became homeless and entered emergency accommodation – a 71% increase in just two years.

The majority of people are disgusted and ashamed of this – that our fellow human beings are treated with such indignity – and that this wealthy state is so unequal that it does not ensure all its people have access to the basic need and right of an affordable, secure, home.

And that is why the government and it’s cheerleaders in various policy and academic circles are trying to ‘normalise’ homelessness and to try blame those in mortgage arrears as trying to ‘get a house for free’. They want us all to blame the victims of the housing crisis, austerity and economic crash.

It is all to try divide society – between those who ‘get up early’ and work hard to pay their mortgage and those who are ‘sponging’ to get a ‘free’ house.

This is an unethical and wrong approach.

There are very very few who get a house ‘for free’ in this country – everyone in social housing pays a rent, everyone in receipt of the Housing Assistance Payment pays a rent, those in mortgage arrears have a debt and paid at some point and will pay again when their income and housing situation becomes sustainable.

The lie and the myth at the heart of this argument is that somehow the middle class home-owners will lose out if the government builds more social and affordable housing and delivers on the right to housing for people like increasing tenant protections.

The fact is that our housing system is more expensive than countries which have more social and affordable housing.

Our housing crisis now affects families who are working and can’t afford to buy a home, it affects students unable to find affordable housing, it affects companies unable to source workers, or people who can’t move and get a job in the cities.

Rising rents and house prices is ‘lost’ money’ from the real economy – the main beneficiaries are a minority wealthy landlord and financial elite.

The reality needs to dawn on the generation seeking to buy housing – for most of them the only possibility of accessing affordable housing will be if the government builds it.

And that’s why your concern with rising homelessness should rightly be one of an ethical and moral disgust with the treatment of your fellow human beings.

And the solutions are common – for the government to engage the entire machinery of the state to undertake a massive social and affordable house building programme.

There is no doubt that the biggest fear of the government and wider state and property establishment is the emergence of a citizen’s movement on housing similar to the water movement.

Access to affordable and secure housing, and particularly an opposition to evictions, is strongly embedded in our national psyche. Nothing stirs our passions more than home – unfortunately that has been turned into an obsession with rising property prices and housing speculation.

But as more and more people are excluded from our broken housing system this could be changing. There is increasing demand for a change in direction – for housing to be provided as a home primarily rather than a speculative asset for investors.

Just look at the increasing citizen and political action being taken to try respond to the housing crisis. From protests (see Uplift’s on-line petition here) against the sell-off of  loans to Vulture Funds and proposals for legislation to set up a Housing Co-op to buy the loans.

To the Dublin Tenants Form on tenant security taking place on March 13 (see here:), to the national protest march for Housing is a Human Right on April 7 (see here) organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition, to the Irish Congress of Trade Union’s Charter for Housing Rights.

Such a growing wave of citizen action has the potential to change the direction of this sinking ship.

Dr Rory Hearne is a policy analyst, academic, social justice campaigner. He writes here in a personal capacity. Follow Rory on Twitter: @roryhearne

Rollingnews

This morning.

Marrowbone Lane, Merchants Quay, Dublin 8.

Tents filled with emergency beds for homeless people set up in St Catherine’s Community Sports Centre by the Peter McVerry Trust, which are “almost at capacity”, according to the charity.

Earlier: Adapting

Rollingnews

Yesterday

This morning

Meanwhile…

Meanwhile…

Rollingnews

The spot where the body of a man was found this morning at Ryders Row, Dublin 1

The first of 2018…

“The man was found in a sleeping bag near Parnell Street. This death once again highlights the question of why someone would rather sleep on the streets than in emergency accommodation provided by the DRHE [Dublin Regional Housing Executive)

Trust in the hostel system is still a huge issue as many feel safer on the streets than they do in State-provided accommodation. When that is the case there are serious questions to be asked. It cannot be socially acceptable to go into another year of people dying on our streets.

Statement from Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH), this morning.

Homeless man found dead on the streets of Dublin (irish Examiner)

Rollingnews

Henry Street, Dublin 1

In fairness.

Rollingnews

Leo Varadkar at a recital of Christmas carols by Department of the Taoiseach’s staff choir this afternoon

Eamonn Kelly, responding to comments from his post on homelessness on Friday (What Shall We Freeze?), writes:

I can see the role of supply and demand in the whole homeless crisis, as some of the comments have pointed out, but I find it a bit tragic that we appear to be so helpless against market forces. I don’t think we are. I think the government chooses to believe we are helpless and uses this impression as an excuse to do nothing.

They don’t do anything about imposing some kind of rent freeze. They don’t do anything about building social housing. They throw us all on the mercy of the market, standing over a system that is seeing Irish people dying on the streets of Dublin. And they are doing nothing to prevent this.

If there was a will to prevent or deal with homelessness there would be no homelessness, but there is no will. And that was most apparent at the dismal turnout for the Dail debate on the issue. No ideas are put forward.

For instance, off the top of my head, as some kind of recompense for providing tax avoidance loop holes for multi-national companies, you could factor in a deal that they build social housing or worker housing, like industrialists did in the 19th century.

Something like this could be done if solving homelessness was a priority at political level.

But it’s not just the government to blame for this neglect. It is, apparently, the majority of Irish people supporting these policies with their silence.

It seems that a consensus has  been quietly arrived at that we can afford to “lose a few” in pursuit of economic recovery. And besides, the new Taoiseach is kind of trendy looking. That’s progress too, in a way.

And the media too, in a wrong-headed approach to increasing economic confidence they are exaggerating the recovery. That 10.5% I mentioned in the original article, as trumpeted by the Irish Times, had become, by the RTE News at 9, “just under 12%”.

The effect of these exaggerations, as one commentator pointed out, is to attract emigrants back into a system that literally can’t accommodate them, returning due to a falsely raised hope of a recovery more advanced than it actually is, piling even more pressure onto the creaking system.

Lots of people are doing really well from the upsurge in private rents. It’s not just anonymous international vulture capitalists driving this. It’s “ordinary” Irish people too.

It’s so cruel and heartless, and justified in the main on prejudicial thinking, that sometimes it crosses your mind that the entrenched Irish establishment is made up mainly of those who survived the famine.

When I framed the question in the title of the original piece, What Shall We Freeze? I didn’t have a ready answer. I was being a bit cute. But an answer came to me hours later. What shall we freeze? Our hearts. We must freeze our hearts for the sake of the economy’s health. It’s the only way forward.

Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year to all. May you never have to make your bed out in the cold.

Eamonn Kelly is a freelance writer

Previously: What Shall We Freeze?

Earlier: Not Just For Christmas