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Saturday 10 December 2016

McVerry slams SF claim that people want to be homeless

Campaigner Fr Peter McVerry. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
Campaigner Fr Peter McVerry. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Homelessness campaigners have hit out at comments by a Sinn Fein councillor, who suggested families in Dublin are making themselves homeless in order to secure social housing.

The claim was made by Noeleen Reilly at Dublin City Council's Housing Committee.

"I know families that have done it," she said, according to a report by RTE. "They are fearful of their future and their own security, that's why it's happening."

She said it was happening on a "big enough scale" as families using homelessness services are given a house within two years, instead of waiting 15 years on the housing list.

Dangerous

Fr Peter McVerry said the comments were "dangerous" and they suggested homeless people do not deserve to be helped.

He said he has been working with the homeless for more than 40 years and has never come across this.

Independent councillor Christy Burke, also a long-time campaigner for the homeless, agreed with Fr McVerry. He said he often heard the accusation but there was no evidence to back it up.

"If she has any proof, let's root them out," he said.

Cllr Reilly claimed she was speaking about the housing crisis, not criticising the homeless and suggested to the Herald yesterday her comments were taken out of context.

"I never said that [people were making themselves homeless to skip the housing list]. I was talking about people who were in such a desperate situation, people who had no other choice but to present themselves as homeless to get a house," she said.

Desperate

"There are families in such a desperate situation that they have no choice."

Meanwhile, the Peter McVerry Trust has announced plans to double its housing provision in Dublin by 2020.

In its strategic plan, the charity says it aims to have 450 homes available to those in need over the next four years.

It is hoped the boost will allow for a move away from dormitory accommodation and give homeless people a "key in the door" to escape homelessness. It comes as the trust noted a 200pc increase in child and youth homelessness since 2011.

CEO Pat Doyle said the four-year strategy would focus primarily on replenishing housing stock for those forced on to the streets.

Nearly 3,000 adults and 2,065 children were living in hotels across Dublin last month.

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