Charity also welcomes budget boost in homelessness funding but said resources must be used to help end the crisis and not to manage it.
Focus Ireland welcomes the budget investment in housing in Budget 2021 and said the Government must now take swift action to ensure fast-track delivery of social & affordable rental homes.
The charity said there has been significant Budget investment in housing in the recent past which did not result in the required increase in delivery of homes.
Focus Ireland Policy Co-Ordinator Rosemary Hennigan said: “It is especially good to see that €500 million has been earmarked for social housing to be directly built by local authorities and approved housing bodies. However, a budget allocation needs to be followed by action. The pandemic gives us an opportunity to move ahead with urgent investment in housing, but it hasn’t removed underlying challenges in the housing market around viability. We need to build on the partnership approach which was successful at the start of this pandemic and Focus Ireland has called for a Housing Commission to help bring stakeholders together and address those blockages and gaps so we can get on with the task of building the homes needed in every county nationwide.”
Focus Ireland also called for greater clarity over how the funding is going to be made available in the practice and said the process to draw down funds should be made more efficient and less time consuming, to help approved housing bodies, like Focus Ireland, to step up our own delivery of housing.
Meanwhile, Focus Ireland also said it is very positive to see a Budget boost in homelessness funding to around €21.8m next year. The charity said this is very welcome, particularly as we enter the cold months when homeless services will come under more pressure during the ongoing pandemic, but warned that the additional costs associated with Covid-19 will absorb much of this.
Rosemary Hennigan said: “It’s important that there is careful consideration of how we’re spending the homeless budget. Research recently published by Focus Ireland has shown that much of the annual homeless budget is spent funding emergency accommodation. This is the most costly way for the State to help a person facing homelessness, particularly given the increased costs associated with Covid-19. We need to ensure funding is available for emergency accommodation, but we also need to invest in prevention measures to a much greater degree, particularly given the public health challenges of Covid-19.”
Focus Ireland has also noted that while provision has been made for an additional 15,000 HAP tenancies, the Programme for Government also commits to a review of HAP rates which has not been mentioned in today’s budget announcement.
“The Government has committed to reviewing HAP rates to ensure that they remain in line with market rates. With rents at historic highs and no sign of them decreasing, people approved for HAP are struggling to find accommodation within the HAP rent limits. People are left paying ‘top-ups’ to meet their rent, which is placing their overall income under serious strain. This needs to be reviewed urgently.”
Media Contact: Roughan Mac Namara @ 086 85 15 117 or Conor Culkin @ 086 468 04 42
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