Mercy Law Resource Centre (MLRC) says that the housing crisis has deteriorated further this year after what it described as a "tumultuous” 2021.
The independent law centre, which provides free advice and representation to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, was commenting at the launch of its annual report for 2021.
The report shows an increase in clients contacting MLRC in late 2021 because they were refused access to emergency homeless accommodation.
The organisation says that this trend has continued into 2022, with an increase of more than 180% in such queries so far in 2022 compared with the same period last year.
‘More driven into homelessness’
In 2021, MLRC received more than 2,000 phone calls, and provided help to just over 500 individuals and families. It opened 276 new legal-advice files during the year.
“While the world at large was relieved at the lifting of pandemic restrictions, for those at the brink of homelessness the easing of emergency measures has led to even greater instability and uncertainty,” said managing solicitor Aoife Kelly-Desmond (pictured).
Since then, she added, soaring inflation and constriction in the rental market had combined to drive more people into homelessness.
“At the same time, capacity in state-funded homeless services has become strained to the point of breaking,” Kelly-Desmond stated.
She said that the only way to truly deal with the housing crisis was to have enough supply to meet the varied needs of everyone in society.
MLRC has called for a move toward a rights-based approach to housing, which it says would put a stop to the entrenched housing crisis, and prevent it recurring in the future.
The report expresses concern about what the centre describes as “the lack of transparency” in the way applications for transfers from unsuitable local-authority accommodation are dealt with.