Notwithstanding the difficult international and national backdrop of the 2020 budget, namely Brexit and climate change, Novas believe the budget announced by Minister Paschal Donahoe yesterday did not go far enough to address the restlessness housing crisis and prevent more households becoming homeless.
There were some positive elements in yesterday’s announcement, particularly the restoration of full Job Seekers Allowance for young people under the age of 25, who are in receipt of HAP payments. This issue is something Novas and other organisations working with young people experiencing homelessness, have been campaigning on for years. While it does not go far enough (in terms of the caveat that young people have to be in receipt of HAP) it is a positive preventative measure to support vulnerable young adults.
The housing allocation of €2.5b for the construction of new homes, already earmarked within Rebuilding Ireland, is welcome, as is the commitment to construct 11,000 new social houses in 2020. However, this target is too low, accounting for approximately 10% of the current national social housing waiting list, without a single new household joining it.
The budget copper-fastened government policy of relying on the private rented market to meet our social housing needs. An additional €80m will be spend on HAP payments next year, bringing total spend to over €500m. While it is necessary for low-income households to compete in the private rented market, this policy does nothing to add stock, provides no security of tenure for tenants and all of the income goes directly to private landlords. The private market is not, and never will be, the solution to our social housing needs in this state.
We welcome the additional €20m in funding for the delivery of new homeless services, however last year approximately 50% of this was paid to private hotels and B&B’s.
Overall, we believe additional preventative measures are required at a time when the rate of people becoming homeless is greater than ever. We need more social and affordable house builds, through the Land Development Agency and through other means. We recognise the ongoing challenge the government faces in meeting the immediate crisis and delivering long-term sustainable solutions. Collectively we must be creative and brave in delivering these solutions to provide meaningful outcomes for the thousands of people without a home of their own.