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Taoiseach tells councils that families shouldn't be evicted from homeless accommodation

Micheál Martin has urged local authorities to ‘use common sense’.

Image: Sam Boal

THE TAOISEACH HAS called on local authorities to “use common sense” and not to evict families from homeless accommodation for getting extra work in the run up to Christmas. 

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett today read out a letter from a constituent living in emergency homeless accommodation who has been asked to leave because they have gone over the income threshold allowed. 

The letter, read into the record of the Dáil, states:

“There is weeks to Christmas… I’m so upset and stressed by this now. How can they make me homeless from homeless accommodation?’

Boyd Barrett said this is the second case he is dealing with in relation to families being told to leave homeless accommodation, stating that another case is also being raised with the housing minister. 

“This is an unbelievable situation. That woman is the mother of a young child. She is a care worker, working, actually, in a State agency where they desperately need people to work because they are chronically understaffed but, because she did additional work for this chronically understaffed State agency working with vulnerable children, she is now off the housing list,” he told the Taoiseach. 

The constituent received a letter from her local authority stating that “homeless services have been made aware by housing allocations that you do not qualify for social housing support as your application has been deemed over the income limit. You must make arrangements to move on from emergency accommodation with your own resources”.

Boyd Barrett said this is a classic case of punishing people for working. 

“This is just beyond belief. People are now not just homeless; they are punished for working and trying to improve their situation and get themselves out of that situation, but where they still clearly do not have their own resources to pay the rents… they are out of homeless accommodation in the teeth of Christmas,” said Boyd Barrett.

He said such cases were arising due to a change in the calculation method this year which is now based on a person’s average income from the previous year. 

The Taoiseach agreed that the income thresholds in terms of eligibility for social housing should be increased, adding that they are being examined.

“I would say to the authorities and those involved on the ground to use common sense and practicality. If somebody is homeless, we do not say they are no longer available for our services,” he said, adding that he would engage with the housing minister on the matter.

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“Practice should be informed by the spirit with which we approach homelessness overall, which is to ensure that families in particular and people generally are not without a roof, particularly in winter time,” he said. 

The Taoiseach added:

“If someone is homeless and they get a job, for example, there has to be an interregnum or there has to be a period there. I think we should facilitate the person coming out of homelessness basically, and that would be my approach.

“They should not be evicted from homeless accommodation.”

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