Father Peter McVerry says crisis is 'out of control' as four homeless die
Four members of the homeless community have died in the past six weeks, the Peter McVerry Trust has claimed.
The most recent known deaths include a young woman who died of a blood clot after being transferred from a hostel to the hospital; an elderly homeless man who was found dead in his hostel bed; and a man who died after being assaulted, all of whom had used the services of the homeless charity.
This comes after homeless man Alan Murphy, who was also known to the McVerry Trust, was laid to rest on Tuesday, after being found dead on Dawson Lane in Dublin, last week.
“It’s happening all the time,” Fr McVerry said, as he stood outside the Dail, opposite the spot where homeless man Jonathan Corrie was found dead 10 months ago.
“A week or two after Jonathan Corrie died, two homeless people died in Cork,” he added.
“Everybody who is working in the area of homelessness recognises that this problem is out of control. The Government haven’t recognised that yet but they will soon when the winter comes,” he said.
The Peter McVerry Trust fears the homelessness crisis is going to become most acute this winter, with an average of 70 families a month becoming homeless.
“We’re talking 400 new families becoming homeless before next spring. There are not 400 hotel beds available. Hotels will be booked out at Christmas and many of those families currently in hotel bedrooms will be evicted for Christmas with nowhere else to go, except to sleep in parks,” he said.
“I get very frustrated,” Fr McVerry said at the launch of the trust’s pre-budget submission. “I see no recognition, even at government level that we have a crisis,” he said.
The homeless charity is calling on the Government to declare a national emergency to tackle the homeless and housing issues.
“We have two crises, one is getting those currently homeless out of homelessness into accommodation, but the second and even more urgent crisis, is trying to prevent the flood of people coming into homelessness.
“Unless we address that problem, we could provide 20,000 modular homes and fill them all and you still won’t have enough. It’s like trying to empty water from baths while taps are still running. As long as the taps are still running, you’re never going to empty the bath,” he said.
The homeless campaigner called for both rent certainty and a substantial increase in the rent supplement saying “the supplement at the moment bares no resemblance whatsoever to the rents being demanded”.
Fr McVerry also said urgent legislation was needed to prevent financial institutions evicting tenants when they repossess buy-to-let homes. and called for an increase in social housing.
However, he said he did not think the local authorities want responsibility for social housing.
“I think the concern at the moment is just managing the problem and preventing it from becoming too much of an embarrassment prior to the election.”
CEO of The Peter McVerry Trust, Pat Doyle said: “What we’re asking for is real leaderships in this housing emergency. The Taoiseach is not responding but we think if it was classed as an emergency then there could be an inter-departmental response.
“We’ve got vulnerable young men, like the man who died last week, who can’t get access to an emergency bed. If we had that man in an emergency bed, we could have monitored him every 15 minutes, supported him and got him through that night,” Mr Doyle said.