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'Our solutions are working': Minister responds to record homeless figures

It is the third month-on-month increase in the number of people living in emergency accommodation.

Image: Sam Boal

MINISTER OF STATE for housing, Damien English has said the government’s housing strategy is working despite record numbers recorded as homeless last month.

Figures for April show there are now 10,305 people recorded as homeless – including 6,484 homeless adults and 3,821 children.

It is the third month-on-month increase in the number of people living in emergency accommodation.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1, this morning the junior minister said he accepted the figures were consistently rising but insisted the government’s “solutions were working”.

“Nobody will be happy with these figures, we don’t want any of these families living in emergency accommodation – be it a hotel or family hub,” he said.

“On the face of it I know the impression looks – because the numbers stay quite high and some months it has slightly increased – it looks as if it’s not working… but it is now working,”

“If we stick to this, in what we’re trying to do on the rebuilding Ireland, we will have a solution for everybody but it takes a little bit of time.

“There’s a lot of movement of families through emergency accommodation and our focus is trying to prevent people from actually entering emergency accommodation,” he added. 

English said that while hundreds were leaving homelessness every month, hundreds more were still joining it.

“The difficulty is, and I do admit, that every week and every month we might find a couple of hundred homes for people [but] at the same time, the same number of families are presenting here.

“I accept [...] that figures look extremely high and that they are increasing every month but if you go behind those figures our solutions are working and working for many families.”

Rent

Housing charities including Focus Ireland and Simon Communities have called for restrictions on landlords including rent certainty for tenants to be introduced to stop renters losing their homes.

English said legislation to increase the power afforded to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) was currently going through the Dáil.

The RTB has limited investigative powers in relation to the renters but has a role as a mediator between landlords and tenants, if requested, when disputes arise. 

“We are bringing through new legislation to do with tenants rights in relation to the rental market through the Dáíl at this moment in time – it’s looking at many different interventions to protect tenants and help them stay in their homes.

“We are making a lot of changes to the rental market and we keep tracking the legislation here and we’ll monitor that,” he said.

“But what we’re doing here is not just giving longer tenancies, we’re giving greater protections and more powers.”

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