herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

'Judge me on results' - Coveney stakes reputation on crisis

Minister Simon Coveney Picture: Collins
Minister Simon Coveney Picture: Collins

Simon Coveney is staking his reputation on fixing the homelessness crisis.

The Fine Gael TD said no political challenge in his role as Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government matched solving the country's lack of housing.

"I've other responsibilities as a minister such as water and waste, but those are political challenges that I have to find solutions to and manage," he told the Herald.

"But these pale in total insignificant to the responsibility of finding homes for those who don't have them."

Speaking at the launch of Focus Ireland's annual report, Mr Coveney admitted the Government could have, and should have, done more to tackle homelessness in the last five years.

The Focus Ireland report says 90 families have become homeless every month so far this year, compared with 60 a month last year.

Children

Some 2,000 children were in emergency housing across Ireland, it said.

"We're talking just over 6,500 people who don't have a long-term home," said Mike Allen, director of advocacy with the charity. "That's two families a day in Dublin losing their homes.

He added: "It remains hard to see what policy options Mr Coveney's got to make the differences he hopes to achieve during this Government's time."

Last year 12,500 people were helped by Focus Ireland, a near 10pc rise on the previous year.

To help tackle the mounting crisis, the charity has redeveloped 71 housing units in Stanhope Green for people who were previously homeless.

It also committed itself to delivering 150 new homes a year until 2019.

Describing the challenge of homelessness as like "trying to empty the water from a bath while the taps are still on", Mr Coveney gave a personal guarantee that more would be done.

"Judge me on the results," he said, adding that over €5bn had been committed over the next five years to build almost 50,000 social housing units.

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