Govt. must “Pull Together” at cabinet table tomorrow to act to cut numbers becoming homeless every month
Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “Everyone agrees that there is a real emergency situation in homelessness. The Government has taken some actions that have helped to prevent some families becoming homeless and this is postive news. However, the constant rise in the number of people losing their homes every month and the human stories behind these increasing figures tell us that not enough is being done.”
He added: “In the interest of the 1,500 children -and the over 700 families – who are homeless the whole of Government must now move away from defending its record on this issue and accept that some of its policy decisions are directly forcing people into homelessness. If the Government is serious about ending this crisis they must all work together to deliver on rent certainty, to raise rent supplement to meet market rents and to also bring in tax changes for residential landlords who rent to social tenants.”
Mr. Allen said: “Minister Alan Kelly has made many of these proposals yet it is widely reported that Fine Gael are opposing them or at the very least trying to water them down to make them meaningless. Focus Ireland believes the time for political debate is over and the whole of Government must get behind these urgently required actions.”
The Government appear to be relying on a small number of private sector ‘experts’ who say rent regulation is a bad idea. However, they are ignoring expert bodies such the National Economic and Social Council and the OECD who have argued that increased rent regulation can have positive impacts on the private rented sector.
Focus Ireland said there is rightly a lot of attention and focus on the emergency situation in homelessness but we must not lose sight of the fact that to tackle any emergency you must do all you can to cut the numbers who end up in that situation. Cutting the numbers becoming homeless every month would take massive pressure off a homeless services emergency accommodation system that is close to breaking point. It would also free up resources which could be directed to increase prevention measures which is key to ending homelessness.
Focus Ireland said that Minister Kelly’s proposal on rent certainty is limitied and is the minimum that is needed to slow down the number of families losing their homes.
Mr. Allen said: “The extended delays and infighting in the Government in agreeing even this modest measure is distracting it from the range of other measures which are desperately need. Some of Government seem to be completely out of touch with the scale of the crisis that we are facing.”
ACTIONS THAT CAN BE MADE TO EASE THE CRISIS
Deliver rent certainty for tenants
Raise rent supplement rates to match market rents to keep families in their homes and cut the record number of households becoming homeless every month
Take action in the Finance Bill to bring in tax changes for residential landlords (including bringing their tax liability in line with commercial landlords) as any system must work for landlords and tenants alike.
Introduce new regulations which give security of tenure to the over 30,000 households where the landlord is more than 12 month in arrears in his/her mortgage and is in imminent risk of being repossessed.
LONGER TERM SOLUTIONS TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO HOUSING
Focus Ireland is seeking a commitment to the provision a minimum average of 7,000 new social housing units a year over the 5 year term of the next government.
Focus Ireland acknowledge that in this area the Government has published and is committed to implementing the Social Housing Strategy 2020 with an ‘upfront exchequer commitment’ of €1.5 billion but we now need to see bricks and mortar being delivered from that strategy.
Focus Ireland called for these actions in its Pre-Budget Submission. The full submission can be viewed here http://bit.ly/1OVkx3D
Contact: Roughan Mac Namara: 086 85 15 117 or Michelle Moran: 086 468 0442