Sunday 23 October 2016

Charity appeals for decision on rent certainty as talks continue

The Dublin Simon Community has called on the government to put together a package to stem the flow of people falling into homelessness
The Dublin Simon Community has called on the government to put together a package to stem the flow of people falling into homelessness

A leading homeless charity has called on Government ministers to stop stalling on rent certainty and propose a package that will stem the flow of people into homelessness.

Sam McGuinness, CEO of the Dublin Simon Community, told the Herald that "something needs to be done immediately".

"While people are suffering the Government are taking their time making up their minds," he said.

A report yesterday suggested that Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly is considering diluting his rent certainty proposals.

Plans to link rent increases to the Consumer Price Index for four years, which the Labour TD originally proposed, could now be watered down to just two years a source told the Sunday Times. It is understood that talks will resume this week on the subject.

Speculation about a rift between the coalition parties on the best means to introduce rent certainty to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis emerged last week, when Budget 2016 made no mention of a housing package.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan denied that there was a row and said that he and Mr Kelly simply "ran out of time" to draw up measures to stabilise the precarious rental market.

The latest figures, released at the weekend, show that some 61 extra families moved into emergency accommodation in the capital in September.

This figure includes some 68 children who are now living in accommodation such as hotels, that brings the total number of children in this type of accommodation to 1,343.


"The nation is talking about it [the homelessness crisis] and yet nothing is being done," Mr McGuinness said.

The charity believes that measures should be introduced which include a rent cap of some type and also an increase in rent supplement for low income earners.

"We can always work on the two years for the cap when we get it to bring it up to four but let's get something done," Mr McGuinness argued.

It is difficult to know what an adequate response from the Government would look like, the charity boss said, because there is little being publicly talked about at a senior level.

"Where the opposition [to Mr Kelly's proposals] is coming from and why, doesn't make any sense to me or to anybody," he said.

"If it's a dispute between senior finance staff and Alan Kelly, we need this dispute fixed sooner rather than later.

I can't understand why people are continuing to suffer while no decisions are being made. It's common sense that a hole should be plugged.

"This is going on and on and, of course, the numbers are going to rise because nothing is being done," he added.

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