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March 20, 2016, 12:14 p.m.
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housing focus ireland tyrrelstown referendum constitution


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Housing charity Focus Ireland wants the right to a home to be installed in the Constitution to balance the interests of hard-pressed families and so-called “vulture funds”.
The call comes in the organisation’s new five-point plan to tackle the housing and homeless crisis, and the idea of a referendum on the right to a home comes with specific reference to the situation in Tyrrelstown where 200 renting families are facing eviction as their homes look set to be sold.
Also included in the short document are suggestions that any new government should set a deadline for achieving an end to family homelessness as latest figures from January show that 884 families are without stable accommodation.
Another aim is for a target date to be set to end long-term homelessness and the need to sleep rough.
Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny previously said he hopes to resolve the issue by the end of this year, but advocacy groups believe this timeline to be unrealistic.
On top of the existing €3.8 billion commitment to introduce 35,000 social housing units to the market by 2020 Focus Ireland wants to see a total of 40,000 such units supplied by the end of the next government’s term.
The document also envisages an end to the “youth homeless trap” which has seen over 500 young people enter emergency accommodation.
Commenting on the plan, Focus Ireland’s director of advocacy Mike Allen criticised the last Government’s policies which “helped transform the housing crisis into a homeless emergency”.
“The actions were neither sufficient nor fast enough to deal with the problems, and in some areas, such as Rent Supplement, they actually helped transform the housing crisis into a homeless emergency. We must make sure these mistakes are not repeated,” he said.
He continued: “Since Tyrrelstown everyone who is renting, even if they are keeping up with their rent, feels vulnerable.
“This is an unprecedented crisis but it is vital to stress that there are solutions to these problems - but they will only be delivered if the newly elected Government recognises that this is a national priority.”
Focus Ireland has sent its five-point plan to the leaders of all political parties, and it hopes the ideas contained therein will form the central plan of any future government policy to eradicating homelessness and providing more social housing.
The organisation met the acting Taoiseach earlier this month and said that “key ideas from that meeting are currently being pursued”.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/focus-ireland-referendum-necessary-after-tyrrelstown-events-1.2580671