January 11, 2017

Housing Ireland's homeless

Campaign amplifies movement to address homelessness.

#EndHomelessnessNow. Rallying behind that, and other hashtags, campaigners are urging the Irish government to protect the many sleeping without a roof over their head across Ireland. On Monday, January 9, advocates and activists for the homeless struck a deal with the government to provide more housing to those in need. While this has been reported as a victory, others say the focus should now be on long-term solutions. And some are questioning whether the government will even follow through on its short-term commitments.

Since December, a coalition from the Home Sweet Home campaign in Ireland's capital city Dublin took over the abandoned “Apollo House” in response to the growing homeless crisis. For nearly a month, their “act of civil disobedience” found support and funds from various people calling on the government to address this issue.

Homelessness, particularly family homelessness, in Ireland is on the rise. According to the Department of Housing, there are nearly 7,000 ‘officially homeless’ people, with the majority living in the capital. High rents, housing shortages and austerity are just some factors contributing to the number of people on the streets.

Following negotiations this week, the government agreed to set up two emergency accommodation units for those living in Apollo House. Housing Minister Simon Coveney said addressing homelessness is his top priority, adding there will be no families in commercial housing by July 1. But those in Apollo House say they will not leave until their short and long-term needs are met.

We will provide on-the-ground updates of the movement and look at what needs to be done going forward.

In this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Matt Carthy @mattcarthy
Member of European Parliament

Ciaran Cuffe @CiaranCuffe
City Councillor

Karen Murphy @icsh_ie
Director of Policy, Irish Council for Social Housing

Tommy Gavin @IrishHousingNet
Spokesperson, Irish Housing Network

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