'Homelessness crisis will get worse and won't end in my lifetime' - Fr McVerry
The homelessness crisis is going to deepen significantly over the next two to three years, with banks under pressure to evict families over mortgage arrears, Fr Peter McVerry has said.
The homelessness campaigner (73) said the crisis will not end in his lifetime, and that children are already feeling the mentally damaging effects of not having their own home - something that is going to have an adverse effect on their education, too.
Speaking to the Herald, he said that the stress of family life means children will struggle to focus on their studies and in turn could lead to many dropping out of school.
"We have to wait and see how children will be affected in years to come," Fr McVerry said.
"They're psychologically damaged already by the experience.
"Their education is going to suffer. You're in the class but your mind is somewhere else."
Fr McVerry was acknowledged yesterday at the Rehab People of the Year awards.
He said he would be happy if the Peter McVerry Trust ceased to exist - because it would mean the crisis would be over.
"Our objective is to become redundant. It's not going to happen in my lifetime anyway," he said.
Asked what can be done to solve the crisis, Fr McVerry said that the Government needs to stop relying on the private sector and build social housing.
"It's going to get a lot worse. There are more than 32,000 houses in mortgage arrears for more than two years," he said.
"We're going to see a lot of home repossessions in the next few years.
"The European Central Bank is putting huge pressure on banks to get rid of these mortgages over the next few years," he added.