Novas welcomes measures in Budget 2021 to address housing and homeless crisis

We largely welcome the new measures introduced in Budget 2021 relating to housing and homelessness, particularly considering the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and the threat of a hard Brexit looming large.

A total of €5.2b has been allocated to the Department of Housing, Gealtacht and Rural Affairs, with a specific capital investment of €500m to facilitate the construction of 9,500 new social housing units during 2021. This is an increase of the previous target of 8,900 units outlined in Rebuilding Ireland. Additional resources to supported the roll-out of affordable housing and cost rental models are also welcome. This budget heralds record levels of investment by the state in the construction of new homes to alleviate the current housing crisis beset by unaffordability and lack of stock in the last decade.

Additional funding has also been allocated to the homeless sector, with particular focus on a winter initiative. Una Burns, Head of Policy and Communications with Novas noted that ‘the specific assurance to provide one-bed units is most welcome considering that single individuals comprise more than 50% of the national social housing waiting list and spend very long periods of time living in homeless accommodation. The commitment to addressing this issue is very important.’

Despite some very promising inclusions in the budget, the greatest lacuna relates to renters. No measures were announced to protect renters from soaring costs of rent or from evictions. Considering that we continue to live the grips in of a pandemic and that many people entering homelessness for the first time come from the private rented market, this is an erroneous omission.  Protections for renters is an important preventative measure in combatting homelessness. Furthermore, while the Rebuilding Ireland targets have been revised upwards by 600 units for 2021, we would argue that it needs to be scaled even further.

Overall it is a positive and robust budget in tackling an issue that continues to the plague the country. We look forward to working with the department and the local authorities to play our part in addressing the crisis.