Review to focus on homes costing no more than one third of income

Minister Eoghan Murphy says impact of measures ‘will take some time’

The State will this year spend €1.3bn on social housing, with overall expenditure of €5.3bn on 47,000 additional homes by 2021. Photograph: Getty Images

The State will this year spend €1.3bn on social housing, with overall expenditure of €5.3bn on 47,000 additional homes by 2021. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The review of the Government’s housing strategy will focus on affordable housing that costs no more than one third of income, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has said.

The review of the year-old Rebuilding Ireland plan, aimed at dealing with the housing and homelessness crisis, will be completed by September.

The three-week public consultation process on the review ended on Friday.

Spending one third of income in rent or mortgage payments is generally held up as “affordable” by industry standards.

The Minister acknowledged the State was dealing with “unprecedented levels of homelessness”.

In a statement in following the releases of Census 2016 figures on homelessness, Mr Murphy rejected any notion that “the Government might try to hide this from the general public, seek to downplay the scale or turn away from it”.

The Minister said such an idea “does not take account of the huge amount of time and resources already being dedicated to this crisis”.

Mr Murphy’s remarks were in apparent reference to comments by campaigner on homelessness Fr Peter McVerry in Friday’s Irish Times who suggested the Government is still in denial about the extent of the crisis.

The Minister said the “long shadow” of the financial crisis “is with us still”. People have demanded the Government do more. “We demand that of ourselves as a Government. This is very much the intention of the Taoiseach when he speaks of securing opportunities for everyone in this new Republic.”

The census figures showed 6,906 people were homeless in April last year and children up to four years of age were the largest single age group experiencing homelessness.

The Minister said that since becoming Minister for Housing he had been working with local authorities and had held “detailed one-on-one discussions with each of the four Dublin local authority chief executives”, focusing on new short-term measures until longer-term measures could kick in, like the strategy on vacant homes which was currently being developed.

These measures “will be announced in the coming weeks but work is already well underway”.

The Minister said that “many individuals and families cannot meet one of their most basic needs through traditional avenues or supports and so emergency measures are being taken while longer-term solutions are found”.

A budget of €5.3 billion had been ring-fenced for housing and homelessness up to 2021. “These plans are currently being reviewed in light of the experiences of the past year,” Mr Murphy added.

A budget allocation of €100 million has been set this year to deal with homelessness, and in June the Minister announced a further €10 million for family “hubs”, to accommodate up to 200 families.

More than 3,000 households left homelessness last year into sustainable tenancies, and 900 families were accommodated in the first three months of this year, Mr Murphy said.