A local businessman has called for a rent allowance to be paid to homeless people who are trying to overcome addiction problems.
Aubrey McCarthy, who with his brother Fergal is a director of AMC Removals and The Elms Furniture, both of which are based at Punchestown, wants TDs and Senators to act.
Mr McCarthy told the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness that a ban on the payment of the allowance to homeles people should be ended if they engage with a residential rehabilitation service.
Mr McCarthy is chairman of the Tiglin Rehabilitation Centre in Ashford, Co Wicklow, which works with people to tackle addictions, including gambling. He said the payment should be used to support a residential rehabilitation programme that will “give them a fighting chance to stay off the streets.”
The current situation, he said, is that homeless people only get the rent allowance from the State if they stay in a B&B, a hostel, a hotel or private accommodation - but not if the person enters a residential addiction centre.
“An addiction centre is where you have access to all the professional supports to help get your addiction under control and start a new life,” he said. He added that the effect is to condemn people to a “horror cycle” of long term homelessness and chronic addiction. He said Tiglin is funded through voluntary contributions and this is inadequate given the proven benefits that treating addiction at source has in helping people tackle their homeless situation.
“Our solution would not cost the State one cent extra and gives people a chance to turn their lives around and stay off the streets.”