'Missed opportunity' to tackle rising homelessness problem
The Budget increase of €20m to fight homelessness in 2020 has been tepidly welcomed by aid organisations on the ground, who described it as a token gesture at a time when homelessness is on the rise.
The Peter McVerry Trust said Budget 2020 was "a missed opportunity to strengthen ongoing work, prevent homelessness and deliver more social housing for single-person households".
The charity said that notwithstanding the major challenges of climate change and Brexit, homelessness needs to be given greater priority, since the number of people accessing emergency accommodation has risen by more than 6pc since Budget 2019.
More than 10,000 people are homeless and more than 100 children a month are added to emergency accommodation lists.
While welcoming the increase in overall housing spend, Francis Doherty, of the Peter McVerry Trust, said: "Unfortunately, the extra €20m in 2020 will be split across emergency accommodation and prevention measures, as well as day services.
"Given that the rate of new cases into homelessness is at the highest rate on record, we had hoped for a robust package of prevention initiatives."
Meanwhile, Respond Housing, which provides emergency housing, expressed concern that there was no announcement of a National Affordable Rental Scheme and was worried by the continued reliance on the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).
"It is important to reduce the reliance on the private rental sector and focus instead on the building of social and affordable homes," said Respond's Niamh Randall.
"It is essential this capital budget for social housing is a ring-fenced budget, separate from the budget for the HAP which goes to pay rents in the private rental market."