Focus Ireland welcomes Positive Budget Measures But Warns More Action Vital To Halt Deepening Homeless Crisis

Focus Ireland said today’s Budget has some very positive measures that will help deliver the Government’s Housing and Homelessness plan but the charity warned that more immediate action is vital to halt the constant rise in the number of families becoming homeless.

The charity said that the commitment of €1.2 billion to allow for the implementation of the housing action plan is positive and “will help to put some flesh on the bones” of the Rebuilding Ireland plan and to enable the delivery of housing in the coming years.

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “The Budget puts some welcome substance behind the long term strategy of Rebuilding Ireland but the measures to tackle the immediate crisis are far too modest. In particular the 5% increased relief for landlords seems unlikely to change the mind of the increasing number of landlords selling – which is one of the main reasons many people are becoming homeless. This relief already exists for landlords with social housing tenants. It is worrying not more was done on this issue as it would have a positive impact on the numbers becoming homeless if greater action had been taken to prevent more landlords from leaving the sector.”

Mr. Allen added: “The additional €28 million for emergency accommodation in the homeless budget is very welcome – However, all of this seems to be earmarked for more emergency beds. We must highlight that Focus Ireland first warned of a pending family homelessness crisis four years ago in our Pre-budget submission when 150 families were homeless. There are now 1150 families and over 2300 children homeless after insufficient effective action was taken in the last four Budgets. We must stress that what families – and many single people – who are homeless need is a place to call home. We also need more action outside of the Budget to halt the constant number of families and single people becoming homeless by greater investment in the types of prevention services that are already working.”

Focus Ireland also welcomed positive Budget news of some much needed additional supports for families and children who are homeless and added that these need to be put in place as a matter of urgency. Mr. Allen said: “This is very welcome – and not before time – as families and children who are homeless are living through awful hardship every day – often trapped in one room in a hotel room. At least this hardship will be eased a bit through the additional supports.”

Meanwhile, Focus Ireland said it remains highly concerned about the lack of provision for young people who are currently homeless – or at risk of becoming homeless – particularly those leaving the care system. Focus Ireland’s Pre-Budget Submission called for the government to allocate funds to ring-fence housing for these vulnerable young people to prevent them becoming homeless when they leave care.
Mr. Allen said: “This is something the Government could have done that would have helped to protect some of the most vulnerable young people leaving our care system. It is not a very high number of people who would require such support. This should have been done as some young people leaving care find it impossible – as they cannot find anywhere they can afford to rent so they are at a very real risk of becoming homeless. We see this happening every week. In truth it is a very disappointing budget for young people under 25 on welfare as they have seen an increase in their Jobseekers Allowance rate of only €2.70, as opposed to the €5 adults receive. Even though they are on a significantly decreased rate as is.”

Contact: Roughan Mac Namara – 086 85 15 117 or Michelle Moran – 086 468 0442

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