Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said passage of the Eviction Ban Bill must be accelerated, pointing out that homelessness in the north-west has risen by 80.2% since Minister O’Brien published the Housing for All strategy in 2021.
Addressing the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said it is essential that we accelerate the passage of the Eviction Ban Bill so that tenants are given proper long-term tenure security, particularly going into this winter.
It comes as there were only 37 properties available to rent in the entire county of Donegal this morning. Of these, none are affordable for those on HAP.
Deputy Pringle said, “This bill was passed in February, yet the Government continues to drag its heels in its attempt to stall it. I was completely against the lifting of the eviction ban in April, however with the continuous rise in homelessness numbers and the winter looming, this is a particularly important time to reinstate that ban.
“There is a severe lack of rentals available across the country and particularly in rural areas. The reality is that households facing eviction are most likely facing homelessness as well.
“As chairman on the board of the North West Simon Community, I have seen the pressure that voluntary homeless organisations are currently facing. The number of people homeless in the region is increasing significantly every year. Last year 539 people sought support from the North West Simon Community, including 292 adults and 244 children, with 15% of their referrals coming from Donegal County Council.
“The organisation provided social housing to 23 households in Donegal and Leitrim and assisted 239 households in relation to homelessness or the risk of homelessness. Figures for July 2023 alone show that emergency accommodation was provided to 155 people. This is totally disgraceful,” he said.
The deputy was speaking in support of the People Before Profit motion re Suspension of Scrutiny Requirement for the Eviction Ban Bill 2022.
The deputy said: “Minister O’Brien’s Housing for All has completely failed. Since he published the Housing for All strategy in 2021, homelessness in the north-west region has not only increased, but has increased by a massive 80.2%.
“Over 80%, Minister. That is your government’s legacy. And it will continue to be your legacy unless drastic measures are introduced in your budget in two weeks’ time.
“Homeless organisations are severely underfunded and since the Government has failed to protect its citizens from homelessness, the very least you can do is sufficiently fund the organisations that do provide for them.
The Homeless Action Plan for the north-west region stated: ‘it was widely felt that services were overstretched and under-funded by Section 10 Homeless funding’. I raised this issue this very month last year and I warned the then Tánaiste, now Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, that essential homeless services in the north-west were in danger of closing their doors.”
The deputy said: “I would urge the Government to commit sufficient funding to homeless services in the north-west in the upcoming budget and to engage with the services to properly target homelessness, those at risk of homelessness and hidden homelessness, which is particularly present in rural communities.
“If we are serious about tackling homelessness we need to provide households with the support they need during this crisis, which includes passing PBP’s Eviction Ban Bill because the reality is they need a secure roof over their head in the very first instance,” he said.