By Martin Mcmahon
You think appealing to Enda Kenny’s better nature will solve the homelessness situation? You think reminding the Government about Jonathan Corrie will make one iota of difference to Joan Burton, Alan Kelly or Housing Minister Paudie Coffey? You think referencing Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, Father Peter McVerry and Brother Kevin Crowley is going to put one roof over one head or save one family from sleeping rough? Cop. Yourself. The. F**k. On!
Homelessness is not an accident, not a ‘Perfect Storm’, nor is it a ‘Phenomenon’ as Taoiseach Kenny told us back in May 2014 long before he cried crocodile tears over Jonathan Corrie and walked the streets with Christy Burke pretending like he gave a damn. Homelessness IS the plan and anybody who tells you otherwise is full of s**t.
There are 100,000 people on housing waiting lists nationally, more than 42,000 in Dublin alone. This didn’t happen overnight. Lots of these people have been waiting on a home for ten years or more. Lack of affordable housing is not a ‘problem’ for government, they depend on it to drive up rent, property and land prices. This government has figured out that to have a reasonable chance of reelection, it need only pander to its core base of the comfortable class, many of whom are landlords or have a vested interest in a booming property market (as do many TDs themselves). People on housing waiting lists don’t vote for Fine Gael. Those that did vote Labour in the hope that their needs would be addressed have been rightly stuffed as Labour presided over an 82% cut to social housing provision budgets between 2007 and 2014. This chronic under-funding coupled with the more than 170 million euro of cuts to rent supplement since 2010 has created a whole new class of homeless people.
Homelessness is not about a lack of money, quite the contrary, homelessness is about making money and there are massive profits to be had out of it for some. 4.55 million euro was spent on hotel rooms for homeless people between January and April of this year and that figure is rising at a truly phenomenal rate. If it keeps rising at the same pace, it will easily eclipse the 170 million euro cuts to rent supplement and in a shorter time frame.
With mass home repossessions underway in courts across the country thanks to this governments introduction of the Land and Conveyancing Act, more and more people, particularly families, are going to find themselves homeless.
The solution to homelessness doesn’t lie in appeals for Enda Kenny to be the Taoiseach to solve homelessness in 2016. The solution to homeless lies in ousting the most heartless, neo-liberal government it has ever been the misfortune of this country’s citizens to endure and electing a government not determined to make the rich richer by making the poor homeless.