Sinn Féin would increase homeless funding and invest in housing – Ellis

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD said that Sinn Féin in government would increase homeless funding to tackle the emergency and also invest in housing to end the crisis in the long term. He made his comments today following the launch of the Sinn Féin Alternative Budget document ‘Delivering A Fair Recovery’, which sets out alternative measures for the government to consider for the upcoming budget.

Deputy Ellis said;

“The document we launch today is an attempt to engage the government on the options open to them for this budget. It provides costed and specific proposals which show Fine Gael and Labour that they can do things differently.

“2015 has seen the issue of homelessness come to the forefront. Homelessness had been steadily increasing under this government but this year has seen an unprecedented number of people losing their homes. Now well over 1000 children are in emergency accommodation along with their parents and many more single people. The government’s response has been an embarrassment and clearly outlines their lack of desire to really tackle the problem and help these most vulnerable people.

“The homelessness crisis has been caused by a failure to provide affordable housing which led to higher rents. The increased numbers losing their homes have been too much for under-funded homelessness services who struggle to provide sufficient beds for the night, never mind rehousing the people who use their service.

“Sinn Féin proposes that this budget prioritises the housing and homeless crisis. The document calls for an additional 300 million euro spend on housing in 2016, nearly double the commitment likely to be made by the government. This money will be used to build and refurbish more houses which will cut waiting lists, stabilise rents and allow local authorities to house people currently in homelessness.

“Sinn Féin through this document shows the government how an additional 20 million euro could be earmarked for homelessness funding which would address the current shortfall. This would help to provide additional beds, support and housing initiatives for people experiencing homeless. The document also contains details of how the government could provide an additional 5.45 million euro to women’s refuges to deal with a large increase in demand for services provided for women fleeing domestic violence in the last few years as well as previous budget cuts enacted by the government.

“Homelessness supports alone will not end the crisis though. We must shift focus from providing a bed for the night to providing homes for families and single people who are now dependent on emergency accommodation. Sinn Féin has already outlined measures to use 1.25 billion euro from the Irish Strategic Investment Fund to help build thousands of social housing units. We will soon release a document further detailing plans for additional annual investment in social housing which will provide for the construction  of several thousand more homes a year for those on waiting lists.

“Sinn Féin would also introduce rent regulation measures to decrease rents in the private market, limit future increases and so stop the flow of existing tenants into homelessness.
“No single policy will end homelessness or the housing crisis but with the range of measures proposed by Sinn Féin and a shift towards providing housing as Sinn Féin would do in government, we can begin to turn the tide and make the right to a home a reality.”

Dessie Ellis TD Sinn Féin Private Member’s Motion on Housing