PLANS to move families off the housing list if they turn down two offers of homes have been described by a Limerick TD as “heartless and cynical”.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy announced last week that a second refusal will result in people on the list being taken off it for five years.
Labour Party Housing Spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan said the Minister’s decision showed his blatant lack of understanding 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 far 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 have to make judgments based on their familiarity with, and understanding of, the individual families they deal with.
Deputy O’Sullivan said that families would not be in a situation where they were homeless if the Minister 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. “