The charity said that while we welcome the increased allocation towards housing in Budget 2019 the reality is, it is not enough. Despite the last three budgets being mooted as ‘Housing’ budgets, they have essentially been firefighting rather than dealing with causes – as evidenced by the fact that the numbers of men, women and children experiencing homelessness has rocketed during this period.
In the last three years we have seen the numbers of people experiencing homelessness increase from 6,709 (September 2016) to 8,374 (September 2017) to 9,527 (September 2018). In the corresponding period, September 2016-September 2018, the number of children experiencing homelessness rose from 2,426 to 3,693. The figures would be even greater if the Minister had not ‘re-categorised’ hundreds of families who still do not have a tenancy.
What the 10,000 people experiencing homelessness, and others at risk, needed more than anything in Budget 2019 was tangible fast track delivery of social housing to help ease the crisis, we are not convinced that the investment in Affordable Housing will make a real impact.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said:
“In our pre-budget submission we called for urgent action in the form of a 400 million investment in Social Housing in 2019, which would have delivered 2,000 homes. This budget falls significantly short and simply repeats the commitments already made in Rebuilding Ireland.
“We are disappointed that our call for the introduction of a vacant home tax to help bring units back into the active housing supply was not heard.”
The announcement of €60m to build additional homeless shelters for individuals and families is a chilling reminder of the scale of our problem and the limitations of our ambitions.
While we are building this new poverty infrastructure, there is no mention of investing in case managers for the over 300 homeless families who have no such report – even though we know families with case managers are much more likely to escape from homelessness.
Mr. Dennigan concluded:
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“There is much good work being done to help families to secure homes but the harsh reality is that throughout 2018, in the Dublin Region alone each month an average of 99 families became newly homeless in the first eight months of this year, compared to 81 a month for the same period in 2017.”