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Simon Communities welcome housing and homelessness measures in Budget 2019 but also expressed concern over targets.

Press Releases, Press Releases 2018

  

·         Welcome budget of 2.3 billion for housing in 2019, in particular the additional capital funding for health and housing projects.

·         Disappointed that there is no increase in social housing targets and no measures to address affordability.

·         More intervention in the Private Rental Sector needed to deliver an additional HAP 16,000 tenancies in 2019.

·         Welcome the increase in social welfare payments for families who are struggling to cope.

 

The Simon Communities in Ireland have said that they welcome the budget measures addressing housing and homelessness. The homelessness and housing organisation, responding to Budget 2019 announcements so far, also expressed concern there seems to be no increase in social housing targets and no social measures to address affordability for tenants in the private rental sector. There are almost 10,000 people living in emergency accommodation and at least 100,000 households in need of social housing. The Simon Communities Pre Budget Submission 2019 details priority areas for the Government in Budget 2019 including: the Private Rental Sector, preventing homelessness, Housing First, emergency accommodation, social and affordable housing supply, health and complex needs and social welfare and income adequacy.

 

Social and Affordable Housing

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said:

‘We welcome the Budget of €2.3 billion for housing in 2019; however, there appears to be no increase in targets for social housing. There is a commitment to 10,000 units through acquisition, refurbishment and new build, which is the existing target for Rebuilding Ireland in 2019. We await the detail but hope there will be greater commitment to Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHB’s) building on State lands this year. There are at least 100,000 households in need of social housing. We welcome the announcement of the affordable housing scheme and we await more details on how this will work.  The absence of secure affordable housing is at the heart of the housing and homeless crisis. Proactive State intervention is required to deliver secure affordable housing across all tenure types.’

  

Private Rental Sector and HAP

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said:

‘The allocation for HAP in 2019 will deliver the existing commitment under Rebuilding Ireland of 16,760 households but points to the continued reliance on the private rental sector to provide social housing to people. We hope this will translate into an increase in HAP limits. There was no mention of an increase for HAP limits and this is a concern. The Simon Communities most recent Locked Out at the Market Study showed that only 6% of properties on the market were affordable for people who are depending on Rent Supplement/Housing Assistance payment. Any expansion of HAP is dependent on supply in the Private Rented Sector and as it is struggling to cope right now, it is difficult to see how it could deliver 16,000 tenancies in 2019. This budget does not address the issue of rent certainty and enhanced security of tenure which is urgently needed. There are no announcements of cost rental or affordable rental schemes to help address the crisis of affordability in the Private Rental sector. Preventing people from becoming homeless is absolutely key to ending this crisis.  It is disappointing that while there are measures included for landlords, there seems to be no tax relief for tenants. Based on the details so far it doesn’t seem that incentives are matched with conditionality such as the provision of indefinite leases, full rent certainty and quality standards. We need both a carrot and a stick approach.

 

Emergency Accommodation

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said:

‘The additional €60 million capital funding in 2018 and €30 million for homeless services is welcome but this is demand-led with the number in need of emergency accommodation growing each month. Given the scale of the homelessness crisis it is critical that people have somewhere safe and secure while waiting for a home. However, we must not be reliant on short term measures and temporary solutions. We know that moving to a secure home with support is the best way to ensure people to move on from homelessness. Time in emergency accommodation should be time limited; once there people should be supported to source and maintain a tenancy in the wider community through the Homeless HAP scheme. The longer people stay in emergency accommodation, the greater the impact on their health and well-being.’

 

Social Welfare and Income Adequacy

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said:

‘We very much welcome the increase in social welfare payments by €5 per week and indeed the restoration of the 100% Christmas bonus payment. The Simon Communities around the country know first-hand that more and more people are living on the edge of homelessness, struggling to keep a roof over their heads, often forgoing basic necessities so these payments are essential for hard pressed households to make ends meet. Households have been facing huge amounts of financial pressure and strain having no option but to make difficult decisions which may impact their overall health and wellbeing and that of their families. It is disappointing that payment for those under 26 years of age has not been restored.’

 

The Simon Communities deliver supports and services to over 11,000 people and families who experience or are at risk of homelessness every year. 

 

For media queries and interview requests

Helen McCormack

Tel: 01 671 1606/ 085 806 5141

E:  communications@simoncommunity.com

 

About Simon Communities

The Simon Communities support over 11,000 men, women and children. We have almost 50 years of experience providing homeless, housing and treatment services to people facing the trauma and stress of homelessness. We are a network of independent Communities based in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid West, the North West and the South East, responding to local needs and supported by a National Office in the areas of policy, research, communications and best practice. We share common values and ethos in tackling homelessness and, informed by our grassroots services, we campaign for more effective policies and legislation regionally, nationally and at European level. Whatever the issue, Simon’s door is always open for as long as we are needed. For more information, please log on to www.simon.ie

 

 Services include:                                                                    

·         Homelessness prevention, tenancy sustainment and resettlement.

·         Street outreach, emergency accommodation and harm reduction.

·         Housing with support and Housing First services.

·         Homeless specific health and wellbeing services (counselling; addiction treatment and recovery; and mental health supports).

·         Personal development, education, training and employment services.

·         Foodbanks, drop-in centres and soup runs.

 

 

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