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Housing Minister says he expects to see an increase in the latest homeless figures

Minister Eoghan Murphy said if people are focused on his ‘posh boy image’ they are missing the point.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said the homelessness crisis was always going to take more than two years to solve.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said the homelessness crisis was always going to take more than two years to solve.
Image: Eamonn Farrell

HOUSING MINISTER EOGHAN Murphy has said he expects there to be an increase in homeless figures for July. 

The latest figures are still being compiled and have not yet been published, but are due to released shortly. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Miriam programme, the minister said he believes the numbers will be up on the previous month.

Figures published in June showed there was 9,846 homeless people living in homeless shelters or hotels across Ireland in May – an increase of 200 people on the previous month. 

He said due to the numbers going up in one particular region of the country, he expects there to be an increase, but failed to admit government policies have failed to solve the crisis. 

Hitting the 10,000 mark 

The minister said he could not say for certain that the numbers will increase above the 10,000 mark. 

While the numbers obviously are too high, hitting 10,000 doesn’t tell us anything that 9,000 didn’t tell us, which is that we have a very serious crisis.

The minister said that fundamentally, it is a supply problem.

Murphy said the government was delivering on housing supply targets, stating that one-in-five houses built this year will be social houses. He also said the government is going to hit the target of increasing the housing stock by 50,000 by 2021.

The number of houses under construction is going up, he said, adding:

We still don’t have enough homes.

The reason for the increase in presentations to homeless services are varied, said the minister. 

Unfortunately presentations continue… it was never going to be turned around in two years.

A family hub or hotel “is not an appropriate place for a family to be”, he said. 

Addressing questions about the government’s over reliance on the private rental sector, Murphy said the State should not be spending as much as it is on the Housing Assistant Payment (which is paid to private landlords), however he said the government has to at the moment. 

He also discussed the current crisis in student accommodation, stating that starting college should be an exciting time for young people, but he understands that parents and children are worried about how they will afford somewhere to live.

Murphy said the construction of student apartments is on the rise, stating there should be 9,000 units by next year. 

‘Posh boy image’ 

The minister was also asked about his perceived “posh boy image” in relation to the department he oversees. 

He said if people are focusing on the “fact I am a posh boy from D4 they are missing the mark completely”. 

Sinn Féin’s Housing spokesperson, Eoin Ó Broin said the minister’s defence of his record is “astounding”. 

“I don’t know how the Minister can go on national radio and defend his record as Minister for the past year when all the evidence points that his policies are failing. 

“There are children sleeping in Garda stations, students sleeping in cars and commuting for hours, overcrowded housing with many vulnerable workers sleeping in the same beds in shifts. The minister keeps stating that supply is the issue. It is not,” he said.

Labour Party Housing spokesperson, Jan O’Sullivan accused the minister of avoiding the harsh realities of the housing crisis.

“I’m not sure what Minister Murphy counts as progress but homeless figures on the rise is not an example of his policies working.”

In the last month alone, “we have seen families sleep in Garda stations to avoid sleeping on the streets and protestors occupy buildings that have been lying vacant”, she added.

She called for the roll out of rapid build housing, stating that it would go some way as a short-term solution.

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