“Some days I don’t even want to wake up because I don’t want to face this day…. I am tired in school. Some days I would just sit there and not even smile.” This quote is from a 10-year-old girl being kept in a family hub. Hubs, of course, are one of the Fine Gael “housing solutions”. On Tuesday of this week, a position paper by the Faculties of Public Health Medicine and Paediatrics in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland on “the Impact of Homelessness and Inadequate Housing on Children’s Health” was published and included that quote from this 10-year-old. It also included other quotes, statistics and truly shameful findings about the health impacts of homelessness and inappropriate housing on children. The report showed that children kept in temporary accommodation for over a year “are over three times more likely to have mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.”
With the media occupied on whether or not there would be a general election after Tuesday’s vote of no confidence in the Housing Minister (which was defeated by the narrowest of margins), Deputy Broughan felt that this important study had gone largely under the radar. During his speech on Statements on Housing Solutions, Deputy Broughan opened with this quote and highlighted the impact of the housing and homelessness crisis on thousands of innocent children across Ireland. Deputy Broughan criticised the so-called failed “housing solutions” of Fine Gael (supported by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-independents) of HAP and hubs and highlighted some of his own solutions which have been put to the Dáil over the years.
Also, In October of this year, the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES) produced a Trends Analysis of the Housing Assistance Payment (2014 – 2019) which showed that the net cost to the Exchequer since the introduction of HAP has been over €500m (€503m with landlords receiving €618m). Page 21 of the HAP Trends Analysis under ‘Expenditure on Social Housing’ states “Analysis by the DPER (2018) also estimated that, the net present cost of delivering social housing units through HAP is higher than construction and/or acquisition in Fingal and Meath where prices within the general housing market are higher. As such, within the context of policy objectives and wider issues, the relative cost of delivering social housing across LAs should be an important consideration in determining the mix of support mechanisms used…”
Deputy Broughan says “Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-Independents had an opportunity this week to stand with the 4,000 homeless children and say enough is enough but instead they chose to sit on their hands or support a failing Minister. Today we have Statements on Housing Solutions but since the start of the 32nd Dáil Fine Gael has refused to accept any of our solutions and Fianna Fáil has refused to support these solutions – talking instead out of both sides of their mouths. The reality is that young children and experiencing significant and terrible mental health and physical affects and action must be taken.”