Simon Week 2022 calls for a crisis response to homelessness and presents solutions through the 166,000 vacant homes across the country
The Simon Community are calling on Government to introduce a reformed Repair and Lease Scheme (RLS) to target an additional 5,000 homes in 2023.
There are 5,177 single adults living in emergency homeless accommodation accounting for 78% of all households in homelessness. Single people also make up the largest proportion (55%) of those waiting on the social housing waiting list. Increasing homelessness and an unmet social housing need for single people is indicative of a failing housing system.
Housing policy, legislation, and prices are failing single people. One-bed properties are in short supply and completely unaffordable. The average rent in new tenancies is €1,203 per month for a one-bed home. A single person would need to be taking home €4,010 after deductions in order for this to be affordable. A full-time worker on minimum wage will earn €1,622 a month after deductions.
Single people are falling through the gaps. All the while, 166,000 homes across the country lie vacant. This is completely unacceptable.
Simon Week 2022 Conference
A big thanks to all who attended and spoke at our Simon Week 2022 Conference.
Our Housing Crisis Solutions
The Simon Communities of Ireland call on the Government to take decisive action to increase our housing stock. 5,000 vacant properties can be brought into use in 2023 through a renewed Repair and Lease Scheme (RLS) to house people in homelessness and on the social housing waiting list.
According to the most recent CSO statistics, there are 166,752 vacant properties in ireland.
There are many different estimates for the number of vacant homes in Ireland. The Simon Communities take all calculations into consideration, but considers the CSO to be most accurate, given the level of detail in data collection.
No. holiday homes are not included in the CSO vacant homes figure.
The Repair and Leasing Scheme (RLS) targets owners of vacant properties who cannot afford or access the funding needed to bring their property into a state of repair. Properties are available for Local Authorities for social housing for a prolonged period. Targeting RLS is beneficial as it focuses on small landlords and individual property owners.
The Simon Communities have developed a proposal for a regenerated Repair and Lease Scheme with increased funding and targets to incentivise uptake. Here is a quick overview of what would be involved:
- An increased target of 5,000 vacant homes delivered through the scheme in 2023
- Increased loans available and a new grant element that would allow a maximum of €190,000 under the scheme against cost of repairs
- A reformed minimum lease of 15 years
- A focus on increasing supply of one-bedroom properties
- Increased staffing and personnel in Local Authorities to ensure a minimum of four additional staff (5 total) will be working to tackle vacancy.
- A public awareness campaign to encourage engagement
- A quick increase of our social housing supply in areas close to established amenities, support systems, and communities.
- Sufficient ‘pepper-potting’ of social and private housing units to avoid the stigma effects associated with the clustering of social housing.
- Cost effective:
- Costing is in line with Government spending for similar levels of housing delivery, such as, Croí Conaithe, where the Government are providing €450m to support 5,000 new builds;
- Introducing this scheme will reduce the State’s reliance on HAP and thus alleviate pressure on the existing private rental and housing market;
- Mitigating against additional cost of homelessness to the individual and the State such as health, educational disruption, and reduced earnings.
- A boost of social housing supply that would lift thousands of low-income families out of housing insecurity and homelessness.
- Increase the availability of one-bed properties desperately needed for single people over-represented in homelessness and on the social housing waiting list.
- Wide-scale reduction in the number of vacant properties in our villages, towns, and cities. This will breathe life back into our communities, improve social cohesion, and increase footfall to local businesses and amenities. It will also support objective laid out in many Government policies such as Housing for All, Town Centre First policy, Our Rural Future.
- Support a sustainable, environmentally friendly method of social housing delivery.
Budget Required to implement this policy in 2023: €556,011,109
- €502,832,776 capital expenditure in 2023 to bring 5,000 vacant properties into the market for social housing use though the repair and lease scheme, with an focus on one-bed properties developed through universal design lens in line with local Social Housing Needs Assessments
- €47,428,333 current expenditure to fund leasing and running of the scheme
- An additional four staff (minimum) to tackle vacancy in each of the 28 local authorities at an approximate cost of €5,600,000
- A nationwide awareness raising campaign of the scheme at a cost of €150,000.
Simon Week Political Briefing
Representatives from many of the Simon Communities across Ireland attended a political briefing in the AV Room of Leinster House. Here, we spoke to politicians on local issues and briefed them on our national policy proposal to tackle vacancy through a reformed Repair and Lease Scheme.