Two United Nations experts on the human rights to water and sanitation and adequate housing today expressed concern over the increasing number of homeless people in the city of Cork, Ireland, and their lack of access to water and sanitation. Over 700 people are homeless in the city of approximately 120,000 inhabitants.
“Widespread homelessness is evidence of the failure of the State to protect and ensure the human rights of the most disadvantaged populations,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Farha, noting that the number of homeless people has risen in the last few years due to the lack of affordable housing and the impact of austerity measures.
The expert stressed that –according to international human rights law–all levels of government are under an obligation, to provide urgent measures, including financial assistance, to ensure access to affordable housing and essential levels of drinking water and sanitation services.
“The State must take immediate steps to provide these services to homeless people, and at the same time, it must plan and implement a strategy to eliminate homelessness and provide long-term housing solutions,” Ms. Farha said.
Rent allowance allocations available to individuals and families by the city of Cork are reportedly grossly inadequate in relation to the cost of housing in the private market. Tenants with low or irregular income have no protection from sudden increases in rent, forcing them to either move out or face eviction, often resulting in homelessness.