Tuesday, 26 January 2016
Social Housing: Motion [Private Members]
I have already said this. I have examined the situation around the country and was shocked by what I found. What I am saying is nothing new. There has been a 60% increase in Waterford, where up to 504 people are homeless. Last week I made the point on radio and television stations that 37 people came to my office between Monday and Wednesday the week before last and 17 were homeless. We analysed their situation.
I would not overly criticise the Minister. He has compassion and does not want people to be homeless. The situation in Waterford is replicated around the country. A mother with one child receives a payment of €475. One could not rent an apartment in Waterford for €475, never mind a two-bedroom house. More and more single mothers are becoming homeless, something that has been acknowledged by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Samaritans and other groups, because they do not have the money to pay for rental accommodation.
There is an argument that if one increases rent allowance everything else will go up in price. The amount of money people are given is not sustainable, based on the fact that houses cannot be supplied immediately for them. They have no choice but to go into rental accommodation. We have to make rental accommodation affordable or increase payments under the HAP scheme. I know the situation is difficult and there is no easy fix, but we have to decide on doing one or the other.
A significant majority of the current homeless population are single mothers. They receive a payment of €475 and may have to wait for a deposit. One should try to rent a two bedroom house or apartment anywhere in the country for €475. It is just not happening.