The claim by Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly and Taoiseach Enda Kenny that funding is not an issue in the homeless crisis is galling for two reasons:
Firstly following the death of Jonathan Corrie, Alan Kelly told the Dublin Councils to take whatever steps were necessary to deal with the homeless crisis. He made it clear that funding would not be an issue. This was a significant commitment given that his department meets 90% of homeless services costs (or at least that was the case before he took office).
However since then his Department has refused point blank to meet their commitments and are only funding about 60% of the costs of homeless services. This has left a bad taste in the mouth for the Dublin local authorities – not least because they were told that funding would not be an issue.
This in turn has put emergency homeless services which are having to deal with record numbers of individuals looking for assistance under additional strain. On several occasions homeless families have been turned away from emergency Homeless Services. They have been told that the homeless service credit card is maxed out and that there is nothing that can be done to assist them. It is galling to hear the Minister state that funding is not an issue – when families have slept in cars because he will not deliver on his funding obligations.
Secondly the root cause of the escalating homeless crisis are two political decisions made by this Government to slash funding for housing supports for low income families. They have specifically decided to grossly under-fund social housing provision while at the same time they cut rent allowance. Both decisions have been made despite escalating rents and a shortage of supply in the private rented sector. The only possible outcome of these decisions to cut housing funding for low income families in the context of a squeezed private rented sector is to rapidly exacerbate the homeless crisis. The escalating homeless crisis is all about funding and political decisions that target the most vulnerable.