Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht

Current Housing Demand: Discussion (Resumed)

1:30 pm

Mr. Pat Doyle:

I echo what Ms McKillion stated. It is also not suitable for specialist housing associations such as the Peter McVerry Trust which works with the more lower threshold groupings. One cannot apply to build 20 units in one location for very difficult and challenging people. One needs a pepperpot approach with scattered housing, for which acquisitions are perfect.

To answer Deputy Kitt's question on youth homelessness, this will always be an issue so long as large amounts of alcohol are consumed in homes. So long as alcohol is readily available from off-licences there will be family violence and break up and generally young people walk in response to this. There is also the issue of parents prematurely dying because of alcohol and drug misuse and children walk away.

In the past week we picked up two teenagers aged 19 and 17. Their parents had died prematurely and the younger child was in the care of the older child, whom we still consider a child but whom the State considers an adult. Their landlord increased the rent and they walked. We were asked to pick them up between Gardiner Street and Dorset Street. We did so and they have been housed. We also picked up two brothers, aged 20 and 17, at a railway station on the south side. We received a call from Irish Rail to state they were sleeping in the railway station. They had never been in homeless services but their mother fled from domestic violence and while the mother and young daughters were taken into a refuge, the two boys were not. It was considered to be a child protection issue to have them in a refuge with younger children. They were left to sleep in the railway station and we picked them up.

We will always have a problem with youth homelessness and the issue is how we respond to it and the services we put in place. We could support the two boys in an apartment setting where we visit them. They do not need to come into homeless services, or to be introduced to drugs and criminality in the city centre. We could house them in an apartment and visit them daily if we had access to apartments. The difference between now and two years ago is that back then we would have put them into private rented accommodation, paid a deposit upfront and then seen what we could get back from the Department of Social Protection later, but now we compete with 22 other people for the same private rented accommodation. This is why we need a return to acquisitions.