ALONE expresses disappointment over new plans to be unveiled by Minister for Housing
Dublin, 13th September 2017 ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has expressed concern over Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy’s plans to re-introduce bedsits to tackle the homelessness crisis. In early 2013, it became illegal for landlords to rent out bedsit-type accommodation over concerns that many were dilapidated, run-down and inadequate for modern habitation.
Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, commented, “We are opposed to Minister Murphy’s plans to bring back single-room occupancy as a means of tackling the housing crisis. We see this as a backward step for the housing crisis. We in ALONE, along with many other organisations, have spent years campaigning for the abolition of bedsits. People may not be aware that bedsits mean shared bathrooms and we believe that all individuals deserve a home that is of a high standard with private sanitary facilities, proper heating appliances, and proper food preparation areas. The standard of housing needs to be improved not diminished.”
He continued, “In a time of extremely high rents, the government is rewarding landlords who have taken no actions to improve housing standards. Older people on fixed incomes cannot compete in the current rental sector and we would be concerned that it will be our older people who end up in living in these tiny bedsits.”
The ERSI’s report on Housing and Ireland’s Older population (2016) shows that the proportion of older people downsizing to bedsits and bedsit like accommodation, 4.6% premove and 11.2% postmove, is at a much higher rate than other movers. 
Moynihan continued, “ALONE isn’t opposed to downsizing for older people, we support older people moving to smaller, age-suitable homes in later life. However, in the light of these figures, rhetoric towards downsizing for older people coupled with the reintroduction of bedsits could have seriously unfortunate consequences for the older community in the future, particularly older single people. Studies have shown us that older persons spend more time in their home than any other demographic; the average 80 year old will spend 80% of their day at home. They need a space that they can live in – not somewhere to just exist.”
ALONE was founded 40 years ago to tackle the housing situation for older persons, today the housing situation is worse than ever. 87% of all older people in ALONE housing come from homeless services. There has been an 11.4 % growth in the number of people over 60 on the housing waiting list, this increases to 18.5 % in Dublin, and ALONE has an average of 25 applications for every housing unit that they provide.
Moynihan concluded “We have an ageing demographic and we need to make positive, sustainable plans for the future to ensure that older people are not going to be left surviving in substandard accommodation. In light of these comments, bedsits only account for 0.6% of the national residential stock. The Minister’s energy would be better focused on simplifying the process for developing social housing and housing with supports.”
Rebuilding Ireland’s target for housing with supports is 50 units, while the demand is approximately 4,200 units nationally. Repeated studies have demonstrated that ageing at home is the first choice of older people and their families.
For those who have concerns about their own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person in the community, ALONE can be contacted on (01) 679 1032. For more information about ALONE visit www.alone.ie
2017 marks 40 years since ALONE was founded. Since then the charity has supported thousands of older people to age at home. ALONE works with those who have issues with loneliness and social isolation, lack of services, poor health, poverty, homelessness or housing. ALONE provides Support Coordination, Housing with Support, Befriending and Campaigning services to over 1,000 older people nationwide every week. ALONE’s services are quality approved and are delivered 365 days a year.
For more information contact:
Maree Rigney, Limelight Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org, 01 668 0600, 086 3587153
Kathryn Byrne, Limelight Communications, email@example.com, 01 668 0600, 085 233 6033