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New Rules Around Social Housing A Heartless And Cynical Move

12 February 2019

Statement by Jan O'Sullivan TD
Spokesperson on Housing & Local Government, Enterprise & Innovation

Labour Housing Spokesperson Jan O'Sullivan has described the decision by Minister Eoghan Murphy to move homeless families off the housing list for five years if they turn down unsuitable accommodation as 'heartless and cynical'.

Deputy O'Sullivan said:

"This decision shows the blatant lack of understanding that Minister Murphy has when it comes to the real difficulties facing homeless families. The most common reason for social housing offers being turned down is due to drugs and anti-social behaviour in the areas offered, or the homes were too great a distance from people's support networks. It makes sense that those who are in need of housing assistance would also rely on families to assist with other costs such as childcare.  

"Minister Murphy clearly does not understand the complexity of family and childhood homelessness. To relegate families to an additional five years on the waiting list for turning down accommodation which is not suitable, or cannot meet their needs, is grossly unfair. It also takes away the flexibility local council staff gave to make judgments based on their familiarity with, and understanding of, the individual families they deal with. 

"The reality is that we would not be here if Minister Murphy had delivered the necessary number of housing units in the last three years. Labour understands that there is a need for a large scale building scheme, which is why we have pledged to spend €16 billion over 5 years to deliver the number of homes needed. I have also published the Homeless Families Bill, which is designed to ensure that families with children have the needs of those children properly considered. 

"Homelessness is one of the hardest challenges any child can face. 

"This change to the rules is not about housing people appropriately. It is designed to back people into a corner, requiring them to accept any form of housing so that Minister Murphy can get his embarrassingly high homeless numbers down. "