Fine Gael Dublin South Central Deputy, Catherine Byrne, has this evening (Wednesday) said this Government’s willingness to deal with homelessness is supported by a budget of €45 million for 2013 and a firm commitment to end long-term homelessness by 2016.
Deputy Byrne went on to say that Sinn Féin’s presentation of the facts does not take account of the reality of the situation and the determination of the Government to provide people with a stable, secure home in which they can rebuild their lives.
“The Homelessness Policy Statement which was published in February 2013 firmly outlines the Government’s aim to end long-term homelessness by the end of 2016. Ensuring that nobody is forced to sleep on the streets should be the priority of every Government and while I acknowledge that the collapse of the economy has brought considerable, additional hardship for many, this Government remains undeterred in seeking to find an answer to the problem of homelessness.
“The most recent ‘rough sleeper count’ which was conducted in April 2013, revealed 94 rough sleepers in the Dublin region. And while every person is one too many, the Spring 2013 record was lower than the Winter 07, Spring and Winter 08 and Spring 09 audits. In 2012, 879 people in the Dublin region alone moved from homelessness to independent living. We will continue to work to build on these figures.
“A budget of €45 million has been used to support the work of homeless services such as Focus Ireland, Simon and Crosscare in 2013, with local authorities contributing an additional 10%. This Government will continue to pursue a housing-led approach so that people can go straight to securing a long-term, sustainable tenancy, while seeking out the best value for money so that better services can be delivered. But we must remember that providing a home for people is only part of the solution; education, working around long-term unemployment and bringing people back into a stable environment where they feel safe and protected are all parts of the bigger picture. This Government is working hard to deliver on all these fronts.
“We are also addressing the issues which lead to some people losing their homes in the first place through the insolvency legislation which aims to help keep a roof over the heads of those who are mired in debt. I would suggest that instead of using some of the most hard-pressed members of society to score political points, Deputy Mary Lou McDonald and her colleagues in Sinn Féin would be better served putting forward practical solutions which will enable us all to work together to end the scourge of homelessness once and for all.”