Sinn Féin TD for Offaly/ North Tipperary, Carol Nolan has said that "government policy is failing homeless children and that the Minister must “dramatically increase investment in social and affordable housing in 2018."
Speaking on this issue, Deputy Nolan said:
“Since Fine Gael entered government in 2011 child homelessness has increased by 300%. Since the current Government took office child homelessness has increased by over 20%. Since Eoghan Murphy became Minister for Housing the total number of children living in emergency accommodation has increased by 299."
“The child homeless crisis is the direct result of decisions by Fine Gael and it various partners in government," she added.
“From 2011 to 2015, the government slashed capital investment in social housing from €800m in 2010 to €205m in 2014. This decision pushed people into private rented sector, which in turn drove up prices," she said.
“While rents spiral out of control and despite repeated calls for the government to introduce rent certainty, they failed to act."
“This failure to act led to the start of family and child homeless crisis in 2014. Unaffordable rent increases, and the precarious nature of the private rented sector left many households with no option but to try and access homeless services."
“When the government finally acted late last year with the introduction of Rent Pressure zones for some designated areas in the state it was too little and late. Now vacant possession notices to quit, overcrowding and family breakdown are the main drivers of child homelessness."
"The response of Government has been to oppose greater protections for tenants whose landlord is selling up and refusing a growing number of homeless presenters access to emergency accommodation and sending them back to overcrowded and stressful extended family homes," the Offaly TD continued.
"All the while the crisis continues to deepen, 3,000 children are sleeping this Christmas in emergency accommodation."
“The government has finally increased capital investment in social housing but the targets are too low and the delivery timelines are too slow."
“Minister Murphy has options. If he wants to end the scourge of child homelessness in 2018 he must change his policy. He must increase the funding for local authorities and increase their targets for social and affordable housing."
"He must increase protections for tenants. He must end the practice of requiring homeless families to 'self accommodate' and to ensure that no family is left in emergency accommodation for any longer than six months."
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