We will see a “flood of heartbreaking stories of people made homeless” in the next few months without effective plans, Father Peter McVerry has warned.
The Department of Housing said 11,988 people were recorded accessing emergency accommodation in March - an increase of 246 on the previous month.
Meanwhile the first quarter of the year saw a 15% increase in the number of adults and their dependents who exited or were prevented from entering emergency accommodation.
Some 871 rough sleepers or long-term users of emergency accommodation were also housed.
Fr Peter McVerry told On the Record with Gavan Reilly these figures are “not surprising, but beyond depressing”.
He said this is the sixth year homeless figures have increased every month “with minor exceptions”.
Fr McVerry said the Peter McVerry Trust are feeling a strong “surge” in people desperate for homes.
"We're finding it more and more difficult to get homeless people into hostels and families into hubs,” he said.
Fr McVerry said Ireland needs to speed up the build of modular homes to prevent figures rising futher.
Modular homes are prefabricated structures, meaning they are partially or fully constructed in an off-site factory.
He spoke to one builder who said “he can have [a modular home] on site and hand the keys over within 13 weeks”.
“In Ireland it’s taking 12 months,” Fr McVerry said. “If it's bureaucracy problems or a planning problem, we need to address that problem
“We could have 7,000 modular homes on the ground by Christmas,” Fr McVerry said.
He said the Government have enough time and money to build “100,000 houses” if they remove the current obstacles.
The increase in homelessness took place while the Winter Eviction Ban was still in effect.
The ban is ending on a phased basis to June 18th.
Fr McVerry said current homelessness levels would be much higher if the ban was never in place – and it will lead to an “explosion of homelessness” soon.
"Over the next six months the end of the eviction ban will affect the increase in homelessness – it's not going to happen immediately,” he said.
Fr McVerry said, “there’s always going to be homelessness, but it should be short-term.”
"There should be absolutely no homelessness in towns around Ireland because there are far more empty buildings in those towns than there are homeless people,” he said.
“We need to get those empty buildings back into use, and money is no object. The issue is political apathy.”
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