Focus Ireland Welcomes €1.8B (Billion) Housing Budget Allocation But Stresses More Urgent Action Is Required Given Scale Of The Crisis
Focus Ireland welcomed the €1.8 Billion housing allocation in Budget 2018 but the charity stressed that more urgent action is required given the sheer scale of the current homelessness crisis.
The charity said that while there is much that is positive in Budget 2018 the reality is that we will still be playing catch up in terms of trying to get ahead of the deepening crisis. The latest figures show there is now a record total of over 8,000 people homeless and that over 3,000 of these are children.
Focus Ireland said the budget signals a very welcome shift in social housing policy away from purchasing existing homes and towards government taking responsibility for getting housing built. The action taken in Budget 2018 means that 800 housing units will now be built instead of bought.
However, the charity also pointed out that it seems that the total number of homes delivered will remain the same as the existing target of 5,900 homes in 2018. The charity said that this target remains entirely inadequate to the challenge now faced.
Focus Ireland Advocacy Director Mike Allen said: “The funding allocation for housing is welcome but we needed this action two years ago. We really need more urgent action now if we are to cut the constantly rising numbers of people becoming homeless.”
He added: “There is much good work being done to help families to secure homes but the harsh reality is that at least 80 families still became homeless in Dublin last month alone. We are simply not getting ahead of the crisis and without more urgent actions we will be treading water at the very best in terms of cutting the numbers of families and individuals becoming homeless.”
Focus Ireland said it is vital that the pending review of Rebuilding Ireland moves to develop a specific sub-strategy to tackle family homelessness and that this includes a cast-iron deadline that no family remains homeless for longer than six months.
Focus Ireland also welcomed the new scheme to compensate charities for VAT incurred and said it looks forward to seeing the details. However, given that Focus Ireland alone pays over 1m in VAT each year the total allocation of €5m for the scheme will limit its effect.
Meanwhile, the charity also welcomed new measures to boost private home building but said it was “disappointed” to see no action on vacant homes, either to assist in renovations or to tax people who leave homes empty with no good reason.
Contact Roughan Mac Namara at 086 85 15 117 or Alan Neary at 086 4680 442.