‘TIME FOR ACTION’ ON HOMELESS ISSUE
COUNCILLORS UNHAPPY OVER EXCLUSION FROM HOMELESSNESS FORUM
‘IT’S time for action’ was the view expressed by Cllr John Snell at a recent meeting of Wicklow County Council where the issue of homelessness was debated.
Cllr Snell updated members following a meeting with Wicklow TDs which was also attended by Cathaoirleach Chris Fox and Margaret Malone of the council’s Housing Section.
‘We all have to pull together in regards to this. It’s ‘ team Wicklow’, it’s very easy for people to sit on the different as some people would refer to them and criticise but it’s time for action.
‘We all know as public representatives that there is people presenting as homeless out here on a weekly basis, and the fact is that a lot of members are not actually familiar with the figure that we’re talking about.
‘In 2014 we had 128 adults present as homeless to the counter of Wicklow County Council. 89 of these adults were males, 39 females,’ said Cllr Snell.
‘ But I think the biggest indictment and I suppose the most crucial change to this perception of homeless people is that 90 families presented to Wicklow County Council as either homeless or at risk of homelessness; 127 adults and 172 children.
‘I think no child should be put up in a hotel or a B&B, and unlike the Minister where they seem to be addressing up to Christmas. They are talking about there will be a room or a bed for everyone up to Christmas. What happens after Christmas? What happens outside of Dublin?’ he said.
Cllr Joe Behan expressed concern that no members of the council were invited to the recent Homelessness Forum in Dublin despite the close proximity of Bray and considering the fact that it has been affected by the issue on numerous occasions in recent years.
Cllr Pat Fitzgerald expressed the view that it is regretful that nobody working with the homeless in County Wicklow was invited to attend the forum.
‘ This is the biggest crisis in this county and country for many years and it was brought it home to me last week a family I was dealing with tell me it’s the sixth time they are moving in nine years either through distressed homes being sold or whatever, rent allowance.
‘So it is a major issue that has been top of the agenda in this county, but unfortunately only now become top of the agenda with the government, there are many people affected by the issues.
‘I can name four families in Arklow one who has been given a date to get out of the house by Christmas Day. But the situation is serious, it’s a much bigger issue for me than water charges, because these people won’t get an opportunity if they have no home to pay water charges, that’s what we should protest about to be honest about it, in larger measures,’ he said.
Cllr Miriam Murphy reminded her fellow councillors that along with the issue of homelessness is the need for support.
‘It’s not just having no house, it’s the support. There’s a whole lot of relationships with other services that need to be built up. Nobody should be a statistic,’ she said.