Picture shows ALICE LEAHY with (From Right to Left) Minister of State Brian Lenihan TD and Dr Jerry Cowley TD

Absurd to suggest homeless crisis will solved by 2010 given current policy failure to confront nature of problem main cause of the crisis.

Alice Leahy, Director and Co-Founder of TRUST speaking at a special seminar – HOUSING and SOCIAL EXCLUSION – in DIT today (Wednesday, January 21, 2003) said that suggestions by the Homeless Agency that it will solve the housing crisis in Dublin by 2010 given its current approach is “absurd”. Describing the problem as “misunderstood”, Alice Leahy said that nothing will change unless those responsible for managing official policy in this area confront that reality.

“I want to emphasise the fundamental problem has been ignored. The people we meet everyday are out on the street because in many cases they cannot cope with the pressures of society including form filling and questionnaires which many see in the same light as interrogation and literally run from it,” ALICE LEAHY said describing the failure to properly define the problem as probably explaining the current failure of policy in this area as all of the people who are homeless do not fall into the same category.

Alice Leahy went on: “The failure to define exactly what is meant by the phrase people who are homeless is a real issue as everyone does not fall under the same convenient label. We deal with the most marginalised of those who are homeless. Many cannot cope or even avail of the existing services. Often they are probably not even picked up in the statistics used by the Homeless Agency for that reason. Yet there is a refusal to confront this issue. To tackle the crisis in Dublin at present we must first admit the scale and nature of the problem and stop pretending that everyone can fit in to a one size fits all policy which is doomed to failure.”

Against that background “suggestions by the Homeless Agency that it will solve the problem of homelessness by 2010 using its present approach which is only alienating many of the people who are homeless is clearly absurd.”

“This crisis effects real people and their voices are not being heard. Tackling the problem is all the more difficult when even people on the frontline are not heard. Instead, a managerial, corporate style culture that has adopted the language of management speak with “performance indicators” has taken over and cannot understand the nature of the social exclusion that has driven the people we meet everyday into becoming homeless,” ALICE LEAHY said.