Community Law & Mediation (CLM) assisted almost 5,000 people last year through its free legal advice, advocacy, mediation, and education services.
A full 43% of these cases related to housing problems and homelessness.
Community Law & Mediation, which publishes its annual report today, is calling for a range of reforms and clarity on the status of the referendum on housing.
Chief executive Rose Wall said: “Last year, our community law centres assisted with particularly acute emergency cases – a young woman and her new-born baby who were refused emergency accommodation and had to stay in a caravan with no running water or electricity.”
A family with medical priority status, yet in overcrowded, rat-infested, damp and mouldy accommodation and families sleeping in cars were also on the CLM caseload.
“There are steps that can be taken at local authority level to make it easier and fairer for people who find themselves homeless or facing homelessness.
“These include ensuring consistency across all local authorities in the treatment of applications for emergency accommodation; providing training for housing officers within local authorities to ensure they are aware of the State’s legal obligations in relation to housing and homelessness; and addressing the vacancy and dereliction that we see all around us,” said Rose Wall.
She added that a constitutional right to adequate housing, while not an immediate fix, would enable the State to adopt progressive housing policies that protect housing not only as a commodity, but as a basic human right.