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10,000 homeless (including 3,600 children), 87,000 households on waiting lists – Government policy is a dramatic failure

The Government has failed to respond to our nation’s housing crisis. Mortgage arrears are again increasing, there are almost 87,000 households on social housing waiting lists, and 10,000 homeless. This is a national emergency.

Of those 10,000 homeless, 3,600 are children. Over half of the 87,000 households on the social housing waiting lists are families. The impact of homelessness and precarious housing on our nation’s children will be felt for generations to come. This is both unacceptable and unnecessary at a time when resources are available to make a real impact on the housing crisis.

Mortgage arrears increased in the first quarter of this year. The majority of the €2.9 billion arrears is owed by households in late stage mortgage arrears. With further loan sales to vulture funds recently, Government needs to intervene to ensure that mortgage lenders are encouraged to offer a full suite of options, including Mortgage to Rent, and that local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies are properly resourced to support these offers.

The issue of housing is further examined in the Autumn 2018 edition of our National Social Monitor, as is the increasing waiting lists for treatment in Ireland’s hospitals and care centres. 

In June 2018, over 700,000 people were waiting for treatment. Despite Government’s commitments to reduce the length of time on waiting lists, there are over 15,000 children under 16 and almost 18,000 older people, waiting for an outpatient’s appointment for more than 18 months. Lack of investment in primary care teams and community health centres, means that hospitals are under extreme pressure. Waiting lists disproportionately affect those on low incomes and those without health insurance. This is of particular concern because 41% of those waiting more than 18 months for an appointment are among the most vulnerable, children and the elderly.

The latest National Social Monitor also highlights Ireland’s childcare crisis. We have the most expensive childcare in Europe for lone parents, and the second most expensive for couples, as a proportion of family income. Lack of affordable childcare creates a barrier to employment, particularly among young women with children.

Other issues highlighted in the Monitor include the need to combat social isolation in rural communities; the rising number of people underemployed; the widening gap in income distribution; and the need to increase Ireland’s tax take to resource the necessary investment.