McGuinness calls for dedicated homeless services for West Waterford

Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has appealed for homeless services to be made available in West Waterford. Speaking at a meeting of the Dungarvan-Lismore District Council McGuinness called for the Council’s homeless services, which are based in the City, to have a presence in Dungarvan. 

McGuinness said:

“Homelessness has become endemic in Irish society. Instability and precariousness has become a feature of our housing set up. the statistics don’t tell the full story and  It has fallen out of the headlines over recent months but the crisis has not gone away. The only longterm solution to the crisis is for Government to build tens of thousands of houses, as each of the three parties promised to do less than a year ago. 

“Unfortunately their election promises have been quickly forgotten, and dozens of families across West Waterford are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, as we head towards Christmas. Their difficulty and distress is compounded by the need to travel to Waterford City to access homelessness services. 

“I had campaigned for emergency accommodation to be made available in West Waterford to avoid  families being forced into hostels in the City, which would take them away from support networks and interfere with children’s routines and education. The Council has begun to provide some emergency accommodation in West Waterford and that is very welcome. 

“I would like to see some of the other Council supports made available in Dungarvan to lessen the ordeal faced by people from this end of the county, who need to access them. Having to the City to present as homeless, and trying to manage it around school times, childcare or work, is exceptionally difficult for someone who’s world is falling apart. 

“The HAP scheme is a failure. It ignores the reality of a deeply dysfunctional rental market and it pushes people into sub-standard accommodation. It inflates rents and its widely accepted to rely on undeclared cash top-ups from tenants to landlords. It is exceptionally difficult to find accommodation within the HAP limits, and the accommodation that is available often falls below the minimum acceptable standards. 

“I am glad to hear today that the Council acknowledges the shortcomings of the HAP scheme. The Council’s HAP Placefinder service has proven very useful to those that are struggling to find accommodation and the HAP team do their absolute best within the confines of a flawed system. 

“We are lucky in that we have an excellent homelessness services set up in Waterford, with interagency involvement and a great deal of expertise. It would be great if this could be made more accessible to people outside of the City. I can’t see why these services couldn’t be provided from Dungarvan on a part-time basis, or by appointment. I am appealing to the Council to bring these services to Dungarvan.”