The extent of the homelessness and housing scandal represents a damning indictment of our society and the Government's inability to come to terms with it. There are about 5,187 adults, 1,400 families and 3,000 children homeless. The impact on the children is quite shocking. Our system to deal with homelessness is close to collapse, if an additional burden is put on existing services which are very stretched. In 2014, Fr. Peter McVerry said it was a national emergency, but it has deteriorated seriously since. It is shocking that only 638 social houses were built in 2016, of which 384 were built by local authorities. Approximately 5,800 private houses were built in 2016.
I will address the various initiatives. Rents are exorbitant. The average rent in Dublin is €1,744 per month and €1,100 nationally. At all levels of the continuum of housing policy, the position is very serious and grave and the initiatives put forward have clearly failed. The development contribution rebate scheme has produced negligible results, while the infrastructural scheme for affordable housing has had very poor outcomes and results. So far seven units have been provided under the repair and lease scheme. On the much-vaunted planning change in repect of over 100 houses, did anybody see the advertisement placed by An Bord Pleanála on 1 August apologising for the delays in planning due to an inability and lack of staff to progress and process planning applications? Above all, there is no overall focus on or plan for affordable housing. Most of those who are homeless will continue to remain homeless for an undue length of time and more people will become homeless. It is reckoned that about 90 people become homeless every month, although the Government does not publish figures any more. Likewise, for the foreseeable future most people will struggle to afford to pay rent and to buy a house unless there is a fundamental shift in policy.
Does the Taoiseach accept that the Government's policies are simply not working and have not worked for the past few years and that there is a need for radical change in the provision of both council and affordable housing? The social housing list includes about 120,000 people and only 600 social houses were built last year. People want to be in a position to afford to buy a house. Does the Taoiseach accept that there is no overall plan to provide affordable housing, either for rent or to buy?