independent

Saturday 22 September 2018

Homelessness crisis 'worst yet'

Wexford's homelessness issue is a huge problem according to CEO Tom Enright.
Wexford's homelessness issue is a huge problem according to CEO Tom Enright.

COUNTY WEXFORD is in the middle of a housing crisis the likes of which has not witnessed in a generation.

This is what Cllr Davy Hynes and several councillors and senior council officials outlined during a one hour debate on the issue. Cllr Hynes said the council buying a few hundred houses is not going to solve the problem. 'People are in B&B's. People in HAP houses are being told to get out. The best I can say to some people is that I can give them a tent or a sleeping bag. We are at our wits end with this.'

CEO Tom Enright said the county's homelessness issue is a huge problem. '430 women and children were turned away from Wexford Women's Refuge (in one year). Many of these people end up homeless. We are working with the refuge on a facility and we're talking to the department in Dublin.'

Chairman Cllr John Hegarty said a constructive meeting on housing is needed.

Cllr Michael Sheehan said he knows of people living in cars and on streets. He said he knows of people living in cars and on streets. There are many local authority houses and apartments that are lying vacant. He asked how long it takes the council to turn these properties around for residents. 'The tenants in these houses are becoming homeless and all we're doing is perpetuating the cycle.'

Cllr Keith Doyle said he warned about the housing crisis several months ago, saying people are getting evicted and can't find a house to live in anywhere. At this point several councillors left the council chamber. Cllr Mary Farrell said: 'It's really bad form for people to get up and walk out fo a tea break during this.'

Cllr Doyle said landlords are evicting people and selling their properties cashing in on the current in demand market. 'We should try and close that loophole,' he said.

Cllr Tony Dempsey welcomed the council's decision to buy houses. 'Buying a house is cheaper and I am sure the person who gets the money is quite happy to get it. 100 houses is fantastic progresss. The only people who solve the problems are in Wexford County Council. Homelessness is about education and it's a reflection of the failure of the education system,' he said.

Cllr Anthony Kelly said Wexford Corporation built estates throughout Wexford town in the 60s, 70s and 80s and they served people well. Cllr Mary Farrell said: 'We are on the frontline and are getting the brunt of this every day. We get calls through the night with people crying. There is a new homelessness, the hidden homelessness. These are people who are back living with their parents. This is unacceptable. It's outrageous the regulations that are in place for people building a house.'

Cllr Willie Fitzharris said developers have been unfairly targeted. 'I agree that speculators got in during the boom who should never have been allowed. There are a lot of property owners out there who are losing a lot of money who bought at the high end. Sometimes they have to make decisions or go broke. They have a right to make a decision to keep themselves afloat.'

Cllr Keith Doyle said he raised the issue of the new homelessness several times. Cllr Robbie Ireton said council staff are doing tremendous work against all the odds to help families and individuals who find themselves homeless through no fault of their own.

'What have you (my fellow councillors) done to work with officials to solve this problem,' he said.

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