Tomorrow and Tuesday (17th & 18th October) the window of the St Vincent de Paul (SVP) Vincents shop in 73-83 South Great Georges Street, Dublin 2 is being transformed into a unique ‘Hidden Homeless’ estate agency window.
This initiative is to draw attention to the SVP's concern at the housing and homeless crisis and the lack of social housing in Ireland. SVP insists on seeing real progress on the targets for 2016 set out in 'Rebuilding Ireland’, the Government Action Plan for Housing.
The ‘Hidden Homeless’ are people and families in Hotels and B&Bs, made homeless by hikes in private rented sector rents and also people making do with cold, damp and poor quality rental units or ‘sofa surfing’ in the homes of friends or extended family.
These families and people are a key concern for SVP as its members visit them, every week of the year, across Ireland but particularly in and around Dublin, Cork and other cities. SVP directly assists in preventing homelessness, in an informal way, for low income families in private rented housing who face significant rent increases. “SVP volunteers assist with practical support including financial assistance and referral to relevant agencies. SVP also provides social housing and emergency accommodation and is therefore at the heart of the housing and homelessness issue,” said John-Mark McCafferty, SVP Head of Social Justice and Policy.
During the two days, visitors to the shop and passers-by will see a very different type of estate agency window, with properties advertised in terms of what many low income families face. Shop visitors and members of the general public will be asked by younger SVP members from University branches to sign a petition to join the call for Government to:
- Ensure that enough social housing is built or bought to meet current and future need
- Improve security, affordability and quality in the private rented sector.
Among the properties advertised will be:
- Flats with a strong ‘lived-in’ quality, retaining all their features from the 70s, including mould in many rooms and unsuitable for small children or older people.
- Compact flats with kitchenette with open vent for constant air circulation and occasional hot water.
- A relative’s couch within a multi-use environment that can also be used for relaxing and entertaining guests.
- Overpriced rented properties with mediocre furnishings and excessively high rent. A bonus is regular landlord visits.
- Hotel rooms with the opportunity for children to mix with a variety of people from stag parties and business conferences. For additional security there is a curfew in place on children leaving the room and a ban on visitors.
There are 90,000 households waiting for social housing across Ireland and over 2,000 children living in homeless accommodation in Dublin. “We need swift action on social housing to meet the needs of these families,” said John-Mark McCafferty.The situation for many families is critical, he said. “Since August 2015 in Dublin alone the number of families living in homeless accommodation has jumped from 607 to 998 and the number of children in those families has gone from 1,275 to 2,012.
In addition average rents nationwide have risen by 40% since 2012.
Mr. McCafferty also points out that tomorrow (Monday 17th) is the UN day for the eradication of poverty, with homelessness both a consequence and a cause of poverty.
“Tackling the housing and homelessness crisis is a key way to address poverty,” he added.
The SVP campaign is being supported by daft.ie who will are including links on its site to the ‘Hidden Homeless’ estate agency. We are extremely grateful to Daft.ie for its support of this project, says SVP.