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Joan Burton heckled at trade union meeting on homelessness

The meeting today also heard from Fr Peter McVerry and focused on practical solutions to the homelessness crisis.

Image: Conor_Healy_Photography

TÁINISTE JOAN BURTON was heckled during a meeting on homelessness organised by the IMPACT trade union today.

The meeting was aimed at generating a solutions based approach and also heard from Fr Peter McVerry.

During a questions and answer session following her address Minister Burton was heckled by a number of people in a discussion over the rent supplement.

At one point the meeting was interrupted by a an attendee who had to be removed from the event.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Speaking at the meeting Minister Burton outlined the action being taken by the Government on tackling the issue of homelessness.

The Táiniste specified that, while not preempting anything, a social housing strategy could be expected to be part of Budget 2015. A focus was put on policy that would take into consideration the deficit target of 3% of GDP expected in the new Budget.

Burton also urged caution over increased rent supplements.

“Rent supplement increases tend to drive up rental prices. We saw that last year when we increased it between the middle of June and December the average amount by 9%. This showed demand from landlords for even bigger rent increases.” said Burton.

One solution was put forward by Dáithi Downey, the head of policy and service delivery at Dublin City Council’s Dublin Region Homeless Executive, proposed the building of low, cost, modular, modern housing.

This would involve the building units in former shipping containers similar to a project that previously been trialed in Keetwonen, Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

temporary housing The shipping container housing in the Netherlands Source: tempohousing

Speaking during a question and answer session, Tamara Kearns, who has experienced homelessness with her family, spoke about the issues being faced by people.

Speaking at the meeting Kearns said:

We are a working family… we fell behind on one months rent and the landlord decided he could put the rent up. My daughter changed school three times. She is six. Her education at the moment is very low for her age. We are determined to get her up to the standard she should be at.This is what happens to people in homeless facilities.
We had people walk into our property when we were in temporary accommodation when we weren’t there. We had our post opened. We had a curfew.

Kearns’ daughter Stacy participated in the meeting by bringing the microphone to the speakers on the floor.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

The conference today was held in the Gresham Hotel.

Speaking at the meeting Fr McVerry, founder of the Peter McVerry Trust criticised the suggestion that the homelessness crisis could be solved by 2016 as “Alice in Wonderland politics”.

“The rent allowance is hopelessly inadequate and has to be raised as a matter of policy,” said McVerry.

He also pointed out the issue of topping up their rent supplement with their own private income. This practice can lead to recipients of the supplement losing it.

Read: Over 158 people in Dublin were sleeping rough on Wednesday night

Also: Dublin’s homeless could be housed in prefabs

Related: Touching comic tells story of homeless man who saved rabbit from Liffey

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