Minister will order authorities to ring-fence social housing
ENVIRONMENT Minister Alan Kelly is expected to issue a new order to local authorities next month requiring them to ring-fence a substantial portion of properties for homeless or vulnerable families.
A number of local authorities are currently required to allocate up to 50pc of available dwellings to help address the homeless crisis after a direction was issued by Mr Kelly in January.
The four local authorities in Dublin are required to designate 50pc of available homes for this cohort, while the local authorities in Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway have been set a lower target of 30pc.
The scale of the homeless crisis in urban areas continues to cause significant concern in Coalition circles.
Some 3,143 adults used State-funded emergency accommodation during a seven-day period in April which represented a small increase on March.
And a total of 1,118 children were housed in hotels and bed-and-breakfast accommodations with the problem most serious in Dublin.
The figures were provided to Labour Party TDs and senators at their parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday.
In a 23-page document issued at the meeting, Mr Kelly revealed plans to issue further ministerial directions to local authorities when the current direction period ends next month.
The Labour Party deputy leader is also considering extending the direction to apply to other areas.
“The operation of the direction will be evaluated before the six-month period expires and it will have to be considered whether prioritisation should continue, if greater prioritisation is required; should it be extended to other areas, etc,” the document states.
Mr Kelly also detailed plans to issue concessions for developers who agree to offer discounted rents to tenants. And he is also pushing for rent rises to be tied to the rate of inflation.
The measures aimed at tackling spiralling rents will now go to the Government’s Economic Management Council for approval.
A separate meeting on housing will be held by the Labour Party in the coming weeks.
The party’s Dublin Central TD Joe Costello last night said there is a “lot of leeway to be made up” in relation to housing.
“We are taking this issue very seriously because it is a key issue for the Labour Party, we are the only party that truly prioritises housing,” Mr Costello told the Herald.
“We need to see bang for our buck in relation to the €3.8bn agreed for housing in the Budget,” he added.