PRIORITY PREVENTION MEASURES
While the numbers of adults and children in emergency accommodation fell in the early period of the Covid-19 pandemic, homelessness remains at a crisis level in Ireland.
Measures taken during the Covid-19 emergency demonstrated that we can reduce the number of individuals and families forced to enter emergency accommodation and we can increase capacity to support people experiencing homelessness. If we can do it during an emergency, we can do it long-term.
The collaboration between local authorities, HSE
and services like the Simon Communities during
the early phase of the pandemic ensured that those experiencing homelessness were largely protected from Covid-19. Homelessness services were also able to continue to support individuals and families to move on from homelessness. This, combined with the government’s highly effective prevention measures, namely the moratoria on evictions and rent increases, saw the number of people in homelessness fall 14% from 10,148 in February 2020 to 8,728 in July 2020.
Many of the provisions of the moratoria were lifted in August. There has been no significant improvement in private rental market affordability nationwide. The added economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis is resulting in the number of people in homelessness beginning to grow again, particularly among single adults.
Budget 2021 must provide the detail and funding to support the ambition laid out in the Programme for Government to tackle the homelessness crisis. The Programme for Government commits to funding homelessness services, expanding Housing First and funding homelessness prevention actions.
This Budget, must urgently focus on supporting effective measures that prevent homelessness, stem the tide of people entering into homelessness, and allow the space to address the needs of those currently experiencing homelessness.
The Programme for government also commits
to dedicated funding for health, mental health
and addiction services for people experiencing homelessness. This Budget must meet these commitments through dedicated and expanded funding streams. These services are more critical than ever given the additional stressors that the Covid-
19 pandemic has triggered for many experiencing homelessness.
This new government must use the opportunity of its first budget to put in place the homelessness prevention measures that stop homelessness before it starts.