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Heather Humphreys in the Dáil today
Leaders' Questions

'They aren’t living on the streets': Humphreys defends housing for some homeless families

Minister Heather Humphreys made the comments today during Leaders’ Questions.

MINISTER FOR SOCIAL Protection Heather Humphreys has told the Dáil today that when homeless families are discussed, they are not “living on the street, the state is providing these families with accommodation”.

The Fine Gael TD for Cavan-Monaghan made the comments in response to questions from Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik who raised the record high level of homelessness in the state. 

Bacik asked what will be done over the summer to ensure that “people have the necessary supports to keep a roof over their heads and to keep them in their own homes” in the face of the rental crisis. 

“Minister, mortgages are out of reach for countless people, particularly for those who are single, for those who are living in cities. Even your own affordable schemes are out of reach for many people even on good salaries,” Bacik said. 

She added: “And renting is now neither affordable nor available for those who cannot scrape together the money for a deposit to buy.”

In response, Minister Humphreys, who was filling in for Taoiseach Simon Harris today during Leaders’ Questions, said no option is off the table when it comes to housing.

“We’re in the business of looking for more ideas, more novel approaches more innovative ways to continue to increase housing supply,” she said.

Humphreys continued: “You mentioned homelessness. I know the figures are out at the end of this week and I do know that there are too many people and too many children in emergency homeless accommodation.

However, context is important. Families become homeless all the time for various reasons and the most common reason is relationship breakdown. We can never stop that from occurring.

“But we will continue to help families to avoid entering emergency accommodation and help them exit as soon as possible if they do.”

“It’s important to say that when we talk about homeless families, they are not living on the street. The state is providing these families with accommodation.

“And it’s something that we continue to work on. We are making progress. There’s no doubt about that,” Humhpreys said.

In response, Bacik said she was “troubled” by the Minister’s response. 

She said: “Of course we all agree that the key issue here is achieving increased supply, increased delivery of homes. I couldn’t agree more with you. But the problem is your Government has not done enough to address this.”

The latest monthly homeless figures will be released by the Department of Housing on Friday.

Last month, the number of people living in emergency accommodation increased to a record 14,009. This included 4,206 children.

In addition to this, it is estimated that 32,000 people on the island of Ireland are affected by hidden homelessness.

Hidden homelessness is used to describe those whose insecure housing situation is not visible on the streets because they may sleep in cars, couch surf, or are squatting elsewhere. 

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