THERE will never be an end to homelessness because there will always be some people with health or addiction issues that either don’t want to or are reluctant to engage with the services – statutory or voluntary – that are there to help them. These services aim to accommodate everyone seeking help as best they possibly can, but at the moment, they are overwhelmed as the homelessness crisis continues to escalate, in Dublin most acutely, where families affected are being accommodated in unsuitable places such as hotel rooms as stopgap measures.
Just before Christmas last, there was an outcry when homeless man Jonathan Corrie was found dead in the doorway of a house across from Leinster House. This put pressure on Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly to call an emergency Forum on Homelessness, with cross-party support and the main stakeholders involved, which came up with a 20-point plan that included ensuring that everybody who needed a bed to sleep in had one available to them over Christmas.
However, more than eight months later, the homelessness crisis rages on with more families unable to afford rents in the private rental market and the housing charity Focus Ireland describing it as a national emergency. It is a humanitarian crisis on our own doorsteps.
Minister Kelly has protested to his critics that everything that can be done is being done by his department and that he is dependent on the co-operation of the local authorities to help solve the social housing shortage. While there are few instant quick fixes, he should immediately reconvene the Forum on Homelessness to give a greater profile and impetus to tackling the emergency.