Focus Ireland Says Homeless Summit’ Produced Some Positive Commitments But Stressed That Litmus Test Of Govt Will To Tackle Crisis Will be the Pending Review of Rebuilding Ireland

Focus Ireland said that today’s emergency ‘Summit’ between Minister Murphy and the CEO’s of the Local Authorities had produced a number of positive proposals. However, the charity maintains that the meeting had failed to live up the excessive expectations created by the decision to bill it as an ‘emergency summit’.

The charity said that while the positive points in the plan are welcome we clearly need to wait until the full review of Rebuilding Ireland is completed at the end of the month to see if the vision is adequate to the scale of the challenge.

Focus Ireland singled out a number of positive elements in the plan:

  • Increased targets for building of new social housing
  • New commitments of funding for mental health and other services from the HSE
  • Increased commitment to preventing homelessness, particularly the new new role for the RTB in supporting tenants receiving Notices of Termination
  • Greater focus on Housing First approach
  • There are many areas which are re-iteration of policies already announced, or areas which will be ‘explored. In particular ‘greater co-ordination between relevant departments’ is supposed to be in place through a Cross Departmental Team established over 15 years ago. Greater effectiveness in such co-ordination is of course welcome.

However, the proposal was dominated by ‘managing the emergency’ rather than tackling the problem and was lacking in a number of areas which Focus Ireland has indicated as crucial:

  • Legislative action to stop evictions from buy-to-let properties to help cut numbers becoming homeless
  • A taxation on vacant sites and empty houses
  • Increase in HAP levels to match the 4% rent increase permitted by Government

Focus Ireland added that while the measures to increase building of social housing are welcome, they fall far short of what is required in number and timescale.

Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy, said “It would be unfair to judge the new Minister’s approach to this challenging and almost overwhelming problem on the basis of this one event. We will continue to work with the Minister and the Department to try to ensure that the full review of Rebuilding Ireland includes the range and extent of measures which are essential to halt this crisis.”

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