Housing Activists have today occupied a property in Old Market Street, Sligo to highlight the ongoing housing crisis. The 6 hour occupation was to to show solidarity with the Raise The Roof Demonstration on October 3rd in Kildare Street, Dublin.
The group are part of the Sligo Branch of People Before Profit.
“We are protesting here today to highlight the issue of homelessness in our local community, and to show solidarity with people who are homeless as well as other groups trying to represent them across the country. Today we are performing an occupation of this building which has unfortunately fallen into disrepair over the past number of years. We are doing this to highlight just one small example of vacant properties available in our community which could be used to house homeless people affordably, if there were the political will to do so within our current Government. “
“Clearly this is not the only vacant property in the county with potential for redevelopment. According to the Census survey carried out in 2016 there are 32,764 residential properties in County Sligo, 6,571 of those are vacant. That’s a vacancy rate of just over 20% (20.1%) (Figures from CSO website). “
“We believe that in order to quickly resolve this homelessness crisis and to save 40-50 people from easily preventable deaths each year, that we need the immediate delivery of funding to local councils across the country, so that they can get on with the business of assessing and redeveloping properties like this one here behind us. It is also important that funding is allocated to the HSE for health and social care as according to the Peter McVerry Trust, 60% of those they work with require assistance with mental health and 81% of those the Trust has worked with require help with drug addiction.”
“Unfortunately the Government seem more interested in hiding the problem than solving it, as it has come to light in the past few days that 1’606 individuals, 625 adults and 981 children have been removed from the official homelessness figures. These people had been categorised by their local authorities as homeless but have now been removed at the request of the Department of Housing. If they were still included in the figures, the official homeless figures would now be 11,133 instead of 9’527. This is totally unacceptable, it shows total disregard for those 625 adults and 981 children who are homeless as a result of the Governments policy of over reliance on the private market, which has facilitated and exacerbated rising rents and house prices.”
“We’re coming into winter now so we cannot sit idly by whilst more people die and for more to be made homeless; the Government must act now by building public houses, on public land, with public money. The Governments policy of handing public money to private developers has been an abject failure and it is high time that they owned up to their mistakes before their stalling costs even more lives. We hope more people will join this nationwide movement so that we can create, together, the policy changes needed at Government level. We encourage everyone to support upcoming events and protests that that raise the issue of homelessness and housing, whether local protests such as this or the Raise The Roof Rally taking place in Dublin on Wednesday.”