Belfast Telegraph

Europe ‘should help fund 20,000 extra new affordable homes’

The European Investment Bank and credit unions ought to back a five-year drive to end the homelessness crisis, campaigners said.

Europe should help fund 20,000 extra new affordable homes in Ireland, the Simon Communities said (Joe Giddens/PA)
Europe should help fund 20,000 extra new affordable homes in Ireland, the Simon Communities said (Joe Giddens/PA)

By Michael McHugh, PA

Europe should help fund 20,000 extra new affordable homes in Ireland, the Simon Communities said.

The European Investment Bank and credit unions ought to back a five-year drive to end a homelessness crisis engulfing more than 10,000 people, campaigners said.

Simon Communities of Ireland launches its pre-budget submission on Monday.

Head of policy and communications, Wayne Stanley, said: “More than 10,000 people are now recorded as homeless in Ireland – that is an unconscionable figure in a wealthy country.

“Our housing system is broken: we are currently taking an individualised look at ending homelessness, when the problem is systemic.

“As a nation, we need a change in our thinking from the intractable to the possible.”

People should recognise that it will not be possible to return to home ownership levels of the 1990s, but neither will it be solved through relying on the private rented sector: it must include other housing solutions, he added.

“The measures to end homelessness are multifaceted, but we believe that sustainable long-term cost rental accommodation is key.”

Rather than an over-reliance on the private rented sector, a structured cost rental model would see quality, affordable housing built by the State (or on its behalf by approved housing bodies) using low cost loans, such as funding from the European Investment Bank or credit union funding.

He said: “This model is not developer-led and the affordable rent on this type of accommodation would be based on the cost of building plus ongoing maintenance.”

The Simon Communities in Ireland is also calling for the Government to increase the level of rent supplement and housing assistance payment rates in line with market rent, and to increase to the full amount jobseeker payment rates for people under 26 who are experiencing homelessness.

Mr Stanley said people aged under 26 do not get a discount on the cost of living because of their age but urged that they too be given a chance to get out of or avoid homelessness.

He added: “In many parts of the country, rent for accommodation in the private rental sector is now out of reach of many low-income families and individuals.”

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph