At Tuesday’s meeting of Bray Municipal District, Cllr Grace McManus and Cllr Dermot ‘Daisy’ O’Brien brought forward proposals to deal with the potential increase of homelessness and housing distress in the coming months.
The Councillors debated two motions on Tuesday. The first called for a review of staffing levels in Wicklow County Council in order to ensure adequate resourcing of homeless and housing teams and continued quality of service. The second called for the Council to explore the potential and possibility of providing a trauma informed HAP place finder and housing support in Bray.
Speaking after the motions, Cllr Grace McManus stated
“These motions arose out of the findings of a Housing paper Sinn Féin wrote recently. Organisations working within this sector warned of increasing levels of homelessness. We have also explored the nature of housing distress from our own experience, and have identified key areas where support is needed.
“Our intention was to raise these issues with other Bray councillors and our Council officials in order to work collaboratively to respond.
“We have a genuine and serious concern that there will be an even more significant pressure on our homeless team in April, when the ban on Notices to Quit is lifted. The time to plan is now, to ensure those who are and will be at risk of homelessness will be able to access support, in a way that does not also put excessive pressure on County Council employees. We have an obligation to be proactive and to do this work now.
“We also recognise that there is severe stress within the HAP system at the moment, as payment limits are not adequate to access the rental market in the town. There is support needed in terms of accessing discretionary rates, making applications, knowing tenant rights, making complaints etc that could make a positive impact.
“That is why our second motion made the call for this additional HAP and Housing support for the town.
“The solution to the Housing emergency is more social and affordable homes. In the meantime, there are many more things we can and should do to honour the stories we are hearing and respond to the level of suffering because of housing in Bray. We will be pursuing these as we believe we have an obligation to grapple with these issues and propose potential solutions that could make a real difference”
Cllr Dermot ‘Daisy’ O’Brien stated
“We are accountable to the people who elect us, and to the people who contact us daily in their moments of deep struggle as they navigate the housing crisis. Our proposals came from months of data collection and analysis, and we believe if acted on would have a significant positive impact for people.
“A trauma informed approach is something that NGO’s and organisations in our town are already implementing. Trauma informed practice means that service providers understand how trauma impacts behaviour, and are trained to respond in a way that does not re-trigger or re-traumatise the individual.
“When we talk about housing and homelessness, there are layers of trauma involved. We must recognise that people who come to us for support may be carrying trauma, but we also must recognise that homelessness and the housing emergency is also causing trauma in itself.
“These motions are about keeping these issues on the agenda, and putting time and energy into finding real solutions. If we don’t, I believe this generation and the next will suffer the consequences and will judge us accordingly”