By staff reporter
FATHER MCVERRY, a charity campaigner and founder of The Peter McVerry trust, has said Ireland risks being hit by a “tsunami of homelessness” in coming years.
Fr McVerry, who set up his charity to fight homelessness, said it is now having difficulty coping with the problem in Dublin, down to the growing housing crisis.
He said that, for the first time in the charity’s history, staff were being forced to turn people away at the door due to lack of spaces, adding that the problem could hit the Irish government badly in the upcoming elections.
He told Miriam O’Callaghan on her Sunday radio show on RTE that in four decades of working with homeless people, he had never seen things so bad.
“We are, I would say, beyond crisis at this stage. There are six new people becoming homeless every day and that’s the official figures. It may be more than that. There are also 40,000 buy-to-let mortgages in arrears.
“There is a dam at the end of the river and this torrent of water is coming down and there’s no way out. Ultimately, because of the changing nature of homelessness, these are ordinary people who will vote and their families will vote.
“I think this whole issue of housing and homelessness could bring this Government down.”
Fr McVerry said that, with social housing and private rented accommodation options now blovked, there were ‘average’ people that would normally not face the prospect of homelessness finding their homes repossessed.
“35,000 families are going to be out on the street looking for accommodation,” said Fr McVerry. “There are also 40,000 buy-to-let mortgages in arrears.”
He said that banks are going to repossess a percentage of these “and the tenants are going to be turfed out”.
“The tragedy is there’s no exit out of it. I think it’s quite frightening.”
Fr McVerry urged the Government to buy 1,500 houses and flats to try and avoid a crisis, explaining that this would be more effective than paying for hostels and shelters – both temporary solutions to the problem.