Eoin Ó Broin: Majority of TDs in Dáil willingly voted to increase homelessness from April

Published date23 March 2023
Next Friday, the emergency ban on no-fault evictions will end. Thousands of eviction notices will start to fall due from April. Single people, couples, families with children and even pensioners will face the prospect of losing their homes

The range of people impacted is wide. As a TD I am dealing with single parents, people experiencing long-term illnesses, people with disabilities, care workers, teachers, nurses and professionals all facing eviction. Very few will find alternative rental accommodation. Many will be forced to move in with family and friends. Some may even emigrate.

Those without options will be forced to present to their local authority for emergency accommodation.

With homeless levels at record highs our emergency accommodation system is at breaking point. Many councils have no extra capacity. The rest will soon run out.

Repeatedly the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Housing have been asked a simple question. Where are these people to go when their notice date falls due? It is a question they have refused to properly answer.

Many will have no choice but to overhold. Good landlords will provide some flexibility. But the prospect of a surge of overholding cases to the Residential Tenancies Board is very real.

In the hardest of cases people will be forced to sleep rough. Where families with children are unable to access emergency accommodation they may even be referred to Garda stations for a safe place to sleep.

The reasons for all of this are twofold. The Government failed to use the breathing space provided by the eviction ban to materially reduce homeless presentations and increase exits from emergency accommodation. Then it failed to put in place any meaningful plan to mitigate the consequences of ending the ban.

The initial package of so-called mitigation measures was widely criticised as unclear, threadbare and providing no relief for those currently at risk of losing their homes.

Yesterday the Government announced a further set of proposals, the details of which are to be announced at a later date, which will require as yet undrafted legislation or not come into effect until 2024. An additional set of measures was also proposed by the Regional Independent Group of TDs.

Some of these proposals are existing Government policy. Others have no detail. None will do anything to prevent an immediate rise in homelessness. But having got the political cover they needed, the obliging Independents turned their backs on renters and voted...

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