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Category: News

Social Housing strategy direction must be reversed

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) wants the Government to reverse the direction set out in its Social Housing 2020 strategy in favour of built and acquired social housing units.

The current Government strategy is to meet 70% of social housing needs through supports in the private rented sector such as the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and Rent Supplement and 30% through the provision of social housing units by local authorities and approved housing bodies.

SVP want the emphasis switched around, with local authorities and approved housing bodies to meet 70% of social housing need by building and acquiring social housing units.

SVP is seriously concerned at the shortage of local authority housing across the country as waiting lists for social housing have increased dramatically.  As private rents increase, people continue to be priced out of the market and hundreds of homeless families are being housed in totally inappropriate emergency accommodation for extended periods of time.  The only lasting solution to the housing crisis is increasing housing supply, particularly the supply of homes built and acquired by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies. 

Over 11,000 SVP members visit people in their homes every week across Ireland.
Housing is the key concern for members, working with families worried about losing their rented accommodation as well as families in emergency accommodation who have already lost their tenancies due to rent increases which they could not afford.

The proposal is one of 18 made by SVP in its Pre-Budget Submission called ‘‘Building an Equal Nation” which was launched today (14 June 2016), where SVP urges Government to prioritise investment in public services over cutting taxes.

Building an Equal Nation sets out the SVP proposals for Budget 2017 under four distinct headings: Income Adequacy; Housing; Affordable Energy; and Early Years, Childcare and After School Care.

SVP blames the fact that 59% of one-parent families experience material deprivation on the failure of Government policy.

Short videos outlining the reality of life on a low income and the struggles of the households visited by SVP volunteers were shown at the launch. One mother explained how she copes with cutbacks in recent years, saying “I try to save on food because it seems to be the only expense I have any control over, so they've literally taken food from my daughter's mouth.” Another mother, trying to increase her hours in work, expressed her frustration: “I work in retail on a 12 hour, fully flexible contract.  There are no more hours in work so I’m stuck.”

“These families tell us they are unable to access the childcare and after school supports they need in order to comply with Government requirements to take up employment or training – there is a lack of policy coherence,” says Kieran Stafford, Vice President of SVP.

The Society is asking Government to improve in-work income supports for one-parent families and to provide more supports to lone parents in education or training.

Kieran Stafford says, “being priced out of rental housing, living in cold homes with the related health and budgeting problems, and inadequate access to early years childcare and after school supports blight too many lives and prevent many children and adults from reaching their potential”.

He called on the Government to focus on fairness and public investment set out in the Programme for Government, and to show leadership by making the right choices both now and for the long term to build an equal nation worthy of a Republic.

Full submission here

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