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Government failing to deliver on all 5 Pillars of Housing Strategy
Since the introduction of Rebuilding Ireland homelessness in general has increased by 59 per cent, family homelessness has increased by 55 per cent and homelessness among older people (aged 65+) has increased by 78 per cent.
Homelessness is becoming normalised in our society. For families accessing emergency accommodation, 45 per cent have being doing so for over a year, with 15 per cent in the system for two or more years. The very fact that Focus Ireland and the INTO jointly published a resource for primary schools to aid them in supporting homeless children earlier this year shows just how pervasive our homelessness crisis has become.
Children born into, or at risk of, homelessness are presenting to services unable to crawl or walk due to lack of space and unable to chew food because of a lack of proper kitchen facilities for parents. Time lost in the first five years of a child’s development is not easily recovered. It requires wraparound supports, including physical and speech therapies, counselling services and dieticians. The societal cost of homelessness is, as yet, unknown. However it is quite certain that the social and economic impact of homelessness will be with these children and their families throughout their lives.
It is clear that our national housing policy is not working for anyone. The direction of social housing, supported by Rebuilding Ireland, is towards privatisation and profit and away from the provision of basic necessities for those who need it.
Rebuilding Ireland is defined by privatization and financialisation – private operators of emergency accommodation, private landlords receiving increasing amounts of rent subsidies for “social housing solutions”, private developers building on State lands, short-term, high-cost lettings, and private property owners hoping to maximise a profit.
Rebuilding Ireland is not working. It is time to reimagine Ireland in order to rebuild it for everyone. We need to focus on what we value and to design policies, and housing, that align with that. Home must be at the core of what we value.
How can we ensure that everyone has a home – that place where we can close the door and feel safe? Home is where we nourish our children and cherish our older people. Home is where we foster a community that no amount of money would part us from.
If we want to Rebuild Ireland for everyone, we need to reimagine Ireland. Not as the best little country in the world to do business, but the best little country in the world in which to live.
Social Justice Ireland believes that we can Rebuild Ireland for everyone. In order to do this we must implement the following policies:
- Design a more equitable housing system.
- Invest in homelessness prevention and limit the amount of time a family should spend in emergency accommodation.
- Extend the principles of the Housing First programme to families to ensure that the wraparound services needed by both parents and children are provided.
- Ensure that our laws prevent evictions unless the State could provide alternative, sustainable, accommodation.
- Increase the construction of social housing and set limits on the amount of time someone should have to wait on a list.
- Build more affordable (really affordable) housing through innovation in technology and building materials to reduce costs.
- Develop a cost-rental, or affordable rental, model at scale.
- Ensure that rent caps are enforced, that rent inspections are adequate, and that deposits are protected.
- Oblige owners of vacant properties to put them to use.