IMPACT trade union is asking all Dublin local election candidates to pledge to protect funding for homelessness services if they win office. The union has set up an on-line facility to help Dubliners contact their local candidates to seek their commitment that homelessness services won’t be cut in future. Speaking today (Monday) at a Dublin conference on the future of local government services, IMPACT official Ashley Connolly applauded Dublin City councillors’ decision to increase homelessness spending in 2014, but said guarantees were needed to protect funding in future years.
“In 21st century Ireland we are still reading about homeless people living in public lavatories and dying in dumpsters. Families with young children are living in hotel rooms with nowhere to play and nowhere to cook. Demand for housing inDublin is increasing while funding and staffing is in decline. In January Dublin City councillors exerted their power and rejected a budget that would have seen €6 million slashed from homeless services. We are confident that those councillors and other candidates will now want to show continued support for these vital services into the future,” she said.
Ms Connolly said the provision of housing should be a key function of local authorities. “Around 100,000 people are on social housing waiting lists across the country. Even as we emerge from recession, rents are rising and the number of people sleeping rough on Dublin streets is on the increase. We can’t leave this to the private housing market. We need a properly-funded collaborative effort between local councils and not-for-profit agencies to provide affordable homes and address a growing housing and homelessness crisis,” she said.
Derek Beattie, chair of IMPACT’s Boards and Voluntary Agencies branch, said homeless services need continued support. “We decided we’d get out and talk to the people running for election. We’re asking them to protect the homeless services budget for the next five years. We don’t think it’s a big ask. People who put themselves forward for elected office do so out of a desire to do some good. We’re appealing to that desire and asking them to pledge their support for this one simple measure. IMPACT will play its part too, by campaigning at national level to have the homeless services budget restored to 2012 levels,” he said.
Ms Connolly said Dublin’s homeless services had seen enough cuts since 2008. “Redundancies, reduced hours and reduced budgets have put enormous pressure on services throughout the recession. This year, the councillors’ decision brought some good news, but we need to keep fighting for homeless budgets to be maintained,” she said.