Family with Young Children Sleeping in a Public Park in Dublin in 2015 is an Absolute Disgrace

The comments by Anto Flynn from the Inner City Helping Homeless organisation in relation to the family with three young children sleeping rough in Mountjoy Square were very apt. Anto’s organisation, totally voluntary and not state funded, allowed the family to sleep on their office floor because a number of state funded organisations were unable to provide accommodation for the family. To have children of 2, 4 and 5 years of age sleeping in a public park in the capital city of a first world country in 2015 is an absolute disgrace. Anto made the very important point that it isn’t more funding that is required, it is a co-ordinated and intelligent approach to what continues to be a homelessness crisis in the city. This is a point that I have continually made over the past year.

We have approximately 23 separate state funded organisations tackling homelessness in the city. The Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) has spent almost a quarter of a billion euros on homelessness over the last six years and this doesn’t include other state spending on homelessness. Yet we still have the worst housing crisis in decades. The DRHE are spending approximately €1 million a month on hotel accommodation for families. In one week in June we had 2,185 adults and 1,122 children in emergency accommodation.

All the Government and the organisations supporting the homeless appear to do is talk about the crisis but don’t seem capable of actually tackling the problem. Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly must bear a significant responsibility for the lack of action. He is too busy chasing the media spotlight and making serial announcements of funding for housing which has yet to be seen on the ground. Last year we even had Enda Kenny taking part in a soup kitchen for the homeless and expressing his shock at the extend of the problem. This week the Irish Independent reports that homelessness has risen by 55% since the beginning of the year. Where is the promised action?

We know the cause of the problem, a lack of proper planning by the Government and an almost total reliance on the private rental market has led to very few houses being built, either private or public. The Governments 2011 Housing Policy excludes a Local Authority house building program and instead relies on the private sector and the Voluntary Housing Associations. The current housing and rental crisis is a direct result of this disastrous policy. The private and voluntary sector are simply not capable of supplying the required amount of houses.

We appear to have a difficulty with a solution. Maybe if the opinions of people such as Anto Flynn and others like him were taken seriously we may see an immediate improvement in the homeless situation.