Dáil debates

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Youth Homelessness: Statements


10:20 am

Photo of Ruth CoppingerRuth Coppinger (Dublin West, Solidarity) | Oireachtas source

We made the point at that stage - it must be remembered that people are being evicted from HAP tenancies - that €23 billion extra would be spent over a 30-year period paying private landlords through HAP when social housing could be built instead. That has been proven by the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

The second family I know of are living in a bed and breakfast establishment on Gardiner Street. All these families became homeless after leaving the private rented sector. Those are the reasons that were pointed out in the Bill introduced by Solidarity that the Minister will not accept. That legislation would impose a ban on evictions arising from sale of properties. Such evictions are continue to happen every day, with the taxpayer footing the bill as a result of the Government's failure or unwillingness to take on private landlords. This family to whom I refer had their home repossessed by the landlord and lived in a car in the Phoenix Park for over a month because of the difficulty in trying to get Fingal County Council to accept that they needed hotel accommodation.

I want to speak about the harassment of homeless families. I have evidence to back this up and I will happily send it to the Minister's office. I do not know if it is the policy with other councils but it is certainly the case in Fingal. Families are only being given two weeks security of tenure in hotels. When that period elapses, they are informed by the management of the hotels that they cannot get Fingal County Council to renew the tenure. The family have to show the council all the evidence that they have been looking for HAP properties. Why is that? Is the Government suggesting that these families are enjoying living in single rooms in hotels? Why is this policy in place? It is if the families involved are having fun being homeless. There are no HAP properties so this is a real British Tory-style policy of forcing families to show the impossible.

The family in question asked for a meeting with somebody from the housing department of Fingal County Council in order to discuss their position. However, the truth is that families have been abandoned. If they do not let the council know their position, they are just left there. The family were asked why they want a meeting. Why does the Minister think they want a meeting? They would like to see if there is any prospect of emerging from their current situation. I have all the emails to prove this. These families have to pay for storage facilities for possessions and also for the takeaway food on which, it seems, they must live forever. This was going on five years ago in Blanchardstown and I highlighted umpteen cases at the time. It is not new. The Government knew about it but it does not care. It will not do what needs to be done.

I will highlight the plight of a third family who have been homeless since July 2018. The family had rented a house for eight years but it was absolutely vital for the landlord to sell so the family were kicked out. They were sent to Drogheda for some reason and ended up in Ashbourne. This was despite the fact that the children attend school in Blanchardstown. There are five children and they are one of the families lucky enough to have two rooms, not just one. Again, there are no cooking facilities and they live on takeaway food. When the parents drop their children to school, they cannot afford the petrol to drive back to Ashbourne and all these places each day so they must stick around the Blanchardstown area. They go to one of the community centres, such as Parslickstown, to avail of some of the help that people give there. They must stay in the area.

Why are families being harassed into proving that are seeking accommodation? Does the Minister seriously think they are having a great time in these bed and breakfast establishments and hotels? Will he commit to contacting councils to ask that this should not be done, particularly as it causes real distress for people? I was in my constituency office yesterday afternoon and spoke to a man with whom councillors and people working with me have dealt. He was angry and frustrated because of his experience living in a car in the Phoenix Park. I should say something about period poverty, as his wife and his daughter were having their periods in the car, leaving blood on the seats as the vehicle was in the Phoenix Park. That is an example of period poverty. Is the Government ever going to build public homes on public land to the scale needed in order to take these families out of their misery?


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