It is good to see that some of the thousands of empty, unsold houses around the country may finally be made available to those on growing local authority housing lists. But it is also incontestable, as councillor Mannix Flynn said (Home News, September 22nd), that the housing sector needs “a fundamental overhaul.” He reminded his fellow Dublin city councillors that “real people” live in neglected housing estates.
However, the manner in which the Government is seeking to organise housing services makes it clear that cutting costs and saving money takes precedence over the real needs of the most vulnerable, and represents an approach that will cost much more in the long-term. Indeed, we are even forced to ask is the invitation to tender document on the Government’s tendering website, for the provision of housing support services in Dublin, the State’s declaration of intent to opt out or seek to evade its responsibilities to our most vulnerable citizens?
Outsourcing these services raises huge questions, particularly at a time when voluntary bodies are short of funds. It is unthinkable that they could find themselves unable to provide a comprehensive support service, and worse still if this service ended up being provided by companies with no understanding of the complex needs of human beings. The current emphasis on meeting targets and achieving success means some people who stay in a hostel too long are being asked to move on to show that they have been helped out of their chaotic lifestyle.
This clearly points to the lack of understanding about the complex and multi-dimensional nature of homelessness, and how easy it is to become an outsider in our society. When someone like Mr Flynn complains about people living in neglected areas not even being treated like human beings, surely that must be a matter of concern?
We see every day the consequences of the lack of adequate support services. Many people who find themselves homeless never benefited from the support services they required in the past, and the privatisation of services will not guarantee that they will benefit in the future. Voluntary bodies are stretched to provide services and they must make sure they are not complicit in allowing the State to neglect its responsibilities.
Director and Co-Founder,
Bride Road, Dublin 8.