Despite on-going economic growth and signs of continued recovery, Ireland remains in the grip of an acute housing and homelessness crisis. The impact on families is immense with many spending extended periods in emergency accommodation (hosted at a cost to the public finances that exceeds what would arise from the provision of social housing solutions), years on the social housing waiting list or facing the challenge and burden of spiralling rents. Increasing rents are leading to situations of economic homelessness as the private rental sector is moving further out of reach for low income and increasingly average income families. With the extension of the Housing Assistance Payment, many more families will be relying on the private rental sector. This at a time when properties available for rent are at their lowest levels. SVP are seeing the reluctance of many tenants to raise concerns over inadequate accommodation in fear of eviction and so make do with cold, damp and substandard conditions.
The housing crisis is exacerbated by the acute shortage of social and affordable houses. SVP urgently calls for increased investment in the building and acquiring of social housing units. Security of tenure also needs to be enhanced with protections to ensure that people can remain in their own homes, including for tenants in buy-to-let properties. Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payment limits are increasingly falling short of what is being asked, and need to be increased to realistic levels so they are in line with market rents. No one should have to endure substandard conditions and sufficient resources must be secured for local authorities to conduct inspections of rental properties to enforce current minimum standards.
Laying the foundations for an equitable future involved ensuring everyone has the right to a secure and adequate home. We look forward to working with the government in realising the ambition of Rebuilding Ireland.