Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.31 9 Jul 2020


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Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien has said "we shouldn't have kids in hotels" for emergency accommodation.

He has pledged that everyone who wants a bed or shelter this winter will be offered one.

'We shouldn't have kids in hotels' for emergency accommodation - Housing Minister

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Addressing the homeless situation, Minister O'Brien told The Hard Shoulder: "We're already making provision for our winter plan - some of our agencies have capacity... but we've got to get ready now in July, and prepare for winter.

"We shouldn't have kids still in hotels - that's something all of us want to work towards making sure doesn't happen."

He also noted there are not enough single room apartments for emergency accommodation, and he will be calling on local authorities to look at acquiring more.

Elsewhere, he also told the show he would like to extend the ban on rent increases and evictions.

However, he said the Government first needs to look at the health and legal advice on the issue.

Minister O'Brien said: "We debated this in the Dáil last night... there was a Labour party motion on this.

"I intend to under the Emergency Act - the COVID Act, let's call it that - there is the provision to further extend a rent freeze and eviction ban, if it's deemed the public health grounds deem that to be necessary.

"I intend tomorrow to write to the Department of Health.... to seek their input, as I have to do under the law.

"Would I like to extend it for a period? I would, but I have to be minded by both the health and legal advice.

"I think the stability this has brought into the market during the public health crisis has been very important."

Minister O'Brien said the Government can't extend the freezes indefinitely, but he will write to health officials and the Government will then make a decision.

He also urged people to access the emergency rent supplement if they are facing difficulties, as only around 8,000 people have availed of it to date.

He told Ivan: "We want to make sure people don't fall into rent arrears - they don't have to do that.

"I want to make sure we have a new deal for renters into the future as well."

Mortgage scheme

Minister O'Brien said there's no blanket freeze stopping people who are on the COVID income supports from getting the state-backed mortgage scheme.

He said he has instructed local authorities to judge every application on a case-by-case basis.

However, a parliamentary question shows people will not be able to draw down the loan until three months after their wages have returned to normal, non-subsidised levels.

The Housing Minister said he isn't stopping anyone from getting the Rebuilding Ireland home loan.

He said: "The reality of it is there is no blanket freeze.

"Have some of the mortgages been affected because people have lost their jobs due to COVID? Yes they have. But I've wrote to all the chief executives and director of services for housing in the local authorities.

"I've instructed them that every case has to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis."

 

Main image: Darragh O'Brien. Photo: Rollingnews.ie

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