The Rector Writes – homelessness

As the familiar rhythms of autumn once again takes hold, the summer quickly becomes just a fading memory for most of us. For some it presents the opportunity to take a late holiday break away from the madding crowds of peak season. For others it is back to school for another academic year and a chance to catch up with classmates they may not have seen since last May. For
still others, it is a time of preparation to start third level education and the freedoms and responsibilities which it entails.
However, there is one segment of today’s society for which very little changes – that is those who are unfortunate enough to find themselves homeless. Of course, homeless families with children of school-going age will notice a difference as their younger members escape the cramped conditions of temporary accommodation for a few hours each day. But that is little consolation as parents struggle with yet more bills associated with back to schools costs.
Much has been said and written in the press regarding our worsening homelessness crisis. Some years ago it was generally assumed that those who were homeless were so because of some ‘fault’ of their own. This has led to a judgmental attitude towards the issue which has been very unhelpful. However, there is a growing realisation that apportioning blame is wrong and
that the causes are oen not so simple or straightforward. Nevertheless, this issue has become a major indictment of our society today. We pride ourselves in the economic recovery we have made since the crash of 2008 – and indeed few would have predicted that recovery. But it is obvious that there is a ‘forgotten’ group who have little to celebrate. And if this issue is not confronted and effectively dealt with urgently, it will have ongoing negative impact on our celebrated economic recovery.
A recent article in an IT publication gave the following stark headline, ‘Ireland’s accommodaon crisis is sending out a dangerous message’. The contents of this article not only touched on those who were homeless but also on the lack of suitable accommodation for students and professionals alike at a reasonable rent. It argued that students were being put in a position to turn down courses as they cannot find accommodation. It also argued that within the IT industry 40% of those being recruited are coming from overseas. Five years ago just 10% of job offers were turned down by oversees candidates. That figure currently stands at 30% due largely to accommodation difficulties. What is worse, Ireland’s reputation regarding this issue is now becoming common knowledge abroad at a me when it was hoped that businesses might select Ireland as a relocation destination of choice within the E.U. following Brexit.
Our Christian faith tells us that all human beings are created in the image of God. This core belief, at the very least, means that every man, woman and child has the right to have dignity. And at its most basic, dignity requires that people have a roof over their heads which they can call home. As a country, as a society and as a community we need to do all in our power to ensure that we address and deal effectively with this homelessness issue with all possible haste and resolve it for once and for all.
With every blessing,
Rev’d John Tanner, Ph: 086 3021376 or 01-289 3154
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