Today, the 27th of March 2019, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government released its homeless statistics for the week of the 18th to 24th of February, which show that homeless figures have breached 10,000 “officially” for the first time. The official Government figures for that snapshot in time showed that there were 10,264 people being accommodated in homeless accommodation around the country at the end of February 2019. The figures showed an increase of 117 adults on January 2019 figures, up to 6,480 adults; an increase of 160 children up to 3,784 and an increase of 93 families up to 1,707. The majority of these, 66%, are in Dublin.
New Independent NUI Seanad candidate, Ber Grogan, is not shocked that the Government was no longer able to hide the homeless figures and stop them from surpassing 10,000. Ber Grogan is a community activist who has been working in Leinster House for more than four years and she has over a decade of experience in the not-for-profit sector. It was clear that homeless statistics were going to go over the 10,000 mark when Minister Murphy was scrambling to ‘reclassify’ cohorts of homeless people. Of course, the numbers of people being held in Direct Provision centres or those living in domestic violence refuges are not included in these ‘official’ figures. Nor are the countless others who are living in overcrowded and unsuitable accommodation, couch surfing or even those living in cars or tents.
Ber is a first-time candidate and is running on a platform of equality and fairness. Her priorities include Housing and Homelessness, Education, Animal Welfare and ensuring that abortion legislation enables free, safe, legal and local access to abortion.
Speaking after seeing the February homeless figures, Ber said:
“Month on month the figures have been continually rising, alongside rising rents. This is not a coincidence – the majority of people are being forced into homelessness because of our dysfunctional and unaffordable private rental market. A huge number of homeless families are single parents, usually mothers, which reflects the trend in Europe for single mothers to be the second largest cohort of people becoming homeless. This is a feminist issue and a human rights issue.”
Ber has been involved in housing activism since her work as a keyworker in a Transitional Housing Project for young homeless people.
“Ten years ago, the powers that be were talking about a reconfiguration of homeless services and about adapting the Housing First model. Studies were coming out showing that if a person is kept in homeless accommodation for 6 months or more they are more likely to become entrenched in homelessness. Yet Fine Gael is holding families in hotel rooms or hubs for two years or more. The housing crisis can be fixed – if the political will was there. We need to show them that this is a priority for us – get involved in your local housing groups and #RaiseTheRoof rallies. The next big Dublin one is scheduled for May 18th.” she added.
27 March 2019