Homelessness on the rise in Wexford
Emergency housing is at critical levels within the county and the local authority are now being forced to spend thousands of euro on temporary accommodation.
The issue was highlighted at last week's meeing of Wexford Borough District where Cllr Anthony Kelly said he was being approached all the time by people who were facing homelessness because their rents were being increased in the private section and they were unable to meet the increase.
Michelle Bridges Carley of Wexford County Council acknowledged rent increases is a problem in the private rental market. 'Rents are rising. I am acquiring properties but they are going as soon as I get them. It is a juggling game but rising rents is a creeping problem.'
Cllr Davy Hynes said the 'whole housing strategy is failing. What are we going to do. Ozanam House is full up and the women's refuge is inadequate.'
Ms Bridges Carley said 'we have extra emergency houses' but added they were often in use'.
She said there is 'a significant increase in homelessness; there is a lot of homelessness in Wexford. On average we have spent €30,000 so far this year and it could even be higher.'
Much of the time the council is forced to rely on bed and breakfasts for emergency accommodation, she said.
'The rent supplements are completely inadequate.'
Cllr Fergie Kehoe said the big problem is 'when you see people being put out of a RAS house because landlords are getting higher rents on the open market. We can't go on spending money on alternative accommodation when it is not stable accommodation.'
Cllr George Lawlor said 'there is no doubt we are in the middle of a housing crisis. €570 is the most the council can offer but a landlord can get €850 in the private sector.'
He said that elected representatives should be declaring their interests if they were landlords when discussing housing, adding that a previous notice of motion by Cllr Davy Hynes to cap rents had been defeated at council level.
Cllr Deirdre Wadding was keen to point out that the members were not criticising the council. 'You are caught in this horrendous situation and your hands are tied. This is the legacy of three decades and we need to have some kind of radical change.'
Ms Bridges Carley said the council is now concentrating on lease options which they can offer at a very high percentage of the market value for a period of 20 years which she said would give families the most stability.