herald

Friday 9 December 2016

'All parties must unite to solve this crisis and stop using it as a political football'

Senator Aideen Hayden
Senator Aideen Hayden

Leading homelessness campaigners believe a joint approach from several government departments is the only way homeless figures will be reduced.

Outgoing Environment Minister Alan Kelly, a Labour party TD, is unlikely to continue as head of the department if and when a new government is formed.

Dr Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of the Threshold National Housing charity, said that the situation regarding housing and homelessness needed to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

Agreement

"The current talks need to come to a conclusion and the political parties need to come to some agreement, the current housing situation is an urgent matter.

"It would also be welcome if all parties come together to tackle homelessness when a government is formed, and that it isn't used as political football," Dr Hayden said.

The homeless charity chairperson also stated that a number of measures needed to be implemented by the Minister of Environment to effectively deal with the issue.

"A recent meeting involving Alan Kelly was held with a number of interest groups, and it actually went very well, a lot was discussed and it looked like action would be taken.

"However it seems at the moment that Alan Kelly won't be the next Environment Minister, so the incoming Minister - whenever that may be - will need to focus on the housing crisis which includes preventing homelessness in the first place.

"A housing first approach must also be developed so people moving out of emergency accommodation are able to re-integrate.

Land-hoarding should also be looked at, which is becoming an increasingly concerning development, with landowners effectively holding the country to ransom," Dr Hayden said.

Prominent homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry said that Mr Kelly's hands "were tied", and that even a Minister for Housing or Homelessness would not fix the problem.

"The Acting Minister Alan Kelly's hands were tied during his time in government by the failure of a number of departments to act together.

"What we need is the next Taoiseach, whoever that will be to call an emergency and get all the departments, including Finance, Social Protection and Health to work together," Fr McVerry said.

Sinn Fein councillor Daithi Doolan, who chairs the housing SPC of Dublin City Council, previously said that national housing policies have failed to date.

"Clearly the Government's strategy is not working. There are more people on the housing list, more people becoming homeless.

"Not only is it not working, it's actually having a negative impact," he said.

"There's a logjam at the moment. Emergency accommodation is totally oversubscribed," he said.

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