Homeless figures point to continued dysfunction in housing – McGuinness

Sinn Féin Councillor Conor McGuinness has said that the latest homelessness figures show that the housing crisis has not gone away but doesn’t tell the full story when it comes to dysfunction in the housing market and a shortage of affordable houses. 

McGuinness said:

“The most recent monthly figures released by the Department of Housing indicated an increase in official homelessness in July. These figures tell us that in July there were 6,077 adults, 2,651 children and 1,142 family units in local authority emergency accommodation across the state in July. Across the South East 189 adults and 10 distinct family units were living in emergency accommodation in July. 

“The increase from last month is a worrying trend and shows that the lifting of the ban on evictions and rent increases was premature. These measures were introduced in response to the COVID pandemic but the new Government made a decision to leave renters without these protections. 

“The official homeless figures only include those who are in local authority emergency accommodation. They do not take into account individuals and families that are couch-surfing, or staying in overcrowded, unsafe or unsuitable accommodation. This hidden homelessness is much harder to measure but from my own experience as a local councillor I know it is pervasive and deeply embedded. 

“The failure of this Government and its predecessor to deal with the impact of short-term letting, through platforms such as Airbnb or to introduce guidelines or policy for affordable co-operative housing has further added to the difficulties faced by individuals and families across the state. 

“This Government has been in place for two-months and we have yet to hear anything positive or ambitious from its Minister for Housing. This is not the time for more-of-the-same. We need strong protections for renters, increased investment for local authorities to build houses, and robust policy for the provision of affordable cooperative housing on public land.”