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Homelessness in Dublin spirals as end of eviction ban looms

‘Homeless services are operating beyond capacity and rents are skyrocketing’

Stock image© Getty Images/EyeEm

A woman walks past the tents of homeless people in Dublin city centre (Niall Carson/PA)© Niall Carson

Níall FeiritearSunday World

Latest figures from the Department of Housing show that almost 12,000 people are homeless nationwide, ahead of the ending of the eviction ban on Saturday.

The figures show a new high in the number of homeless, single adults of which there were 5,736 – the biggest number since current records began in 2014.

In the capital, the homeless figure currently stands at 8,523, including 2,576 children. 11,742 people were without homes nationwide in February, including 3,373 children.

“The Government should do the right thing and reinstate the eviction ban to protect people, it is never too late to reverse a bad decision,” said TD Cian O’Callaghan.

Average rents currently stand at €1,700 nationwide and €2,300 in Dublin with a collapse in the number of available properties online.

Barely 30 properties were available to rent for people accessing the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) over the last month, according to the Simon Communities of Ireland – the lowest since the charity began recording the numbers in 2015.

A woman walks past the tents of homeless people in Dublin city centre (Niall Carson/PA)© Niall Carson

Mr O’Callaghan is Housing spokesperson for the Social Democrats. He spoke about how Government led initiatives aimed at tackling the problem are not being followed.

“The Government has justified their callous decision by saying they will ramp up the tenant in-situ purchase scheme to protect renters due to be evicted. However, I have spoken to both landlords and renters who are at their wits’ end trying to access the scheme.

“Some local authorities are showing considerable reluctance to purchasing homes and protecting renters from homelessness. There needs to be much clearer direction from the Minister for Housing on this.

“The Government must also be a lot more ambitious when it comes to setting its targets. The Department of Housing has stated that it plans to complete 1,500 tenant in-situ purchases for the whole country, with just 400 of these in Dublin city. This target is completely inadequate,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

Around Dublin city centre, there is currently an unprecedented number of tents in laneways, parks and along the banks of rivers and canals.

“Homeless services are operating beyond capacity, rents are skyrocketing and there are thousands of people competing for a handful of rental properties around the country. The eviction ban must be extended or there will be a further spike in people becoming homeless,” Mr O’Callaghan added.

Meanwhile, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said tenants’ rights had changed fundamentally and that the lifting of the ban had been a difficult decision for everybody.

“If you are at risk of eviction, you will have the right of first refusal to be able to purchase the property.

“And that we will extend from the 1st of April, from this weekend, the tenant in situ scheme so that those households in receipt of housing supports can avail of that option.

“We need to knuckle down and deliver for the people of this country, as we've done for the last two and a half years,” he said.

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