Fr Peter McVerry addresses the seminar at the Ardboyne

McVerry: Half a million people living with distress caused by housing situation

Paul Murphy

Homelessness campaigner Fr Peter McVerry told a conference on housing and homelessness in Navan today that up to 500,000 people in the country were living in a housing situation that was causing them distress.

He was speaking at the conference in the Ardboyne Hotel organised by the Meath District Council of the Siptu trade union. He said that the housing "crisis" had the potential to be a "catastrophe" over the next 2-3 years. There were people living in overcrowded accommodation waiting for housing, mire living in poor private rentals where they could not afford to complain because of eviction fears, more living with parents, people paying 50-60% of their income on rent, and those in mortgage arrears.
There were 15,000 people homeless, the biggest category were in the under four years group.

Meath County Council Director of Housing who attended the conference with his colleague David Jones said that the council had delivered 1,068 housing solutions in the county last year. 121 units were being built now. He said that the council had a target of 326 units last year but had exceeded that by 87 units. The biggest need at the moment was for 2-3 bed units.

Siptu researcher Michael Taft said that in Meath 15% of households rented from a private lessons landlord while 6% rented from the local authority or a voluntary body. In the four main towns of Navan, Ashbourne, Trim and Kells the population of private rentals was almost 22% while local authority and voluntary body tenants rise to nine per cent%. In these towns nearly one third of households were tenants.

See more on this conference and story in Tuesday's paper