It is not before time that the Government has finally woken up to the housing crisis in Ireland. The new housing strategy announced yesterday suggests that they have at last taken on the burden of tackling the growing problem of homelessness.
While the problem is complex and goes back to under investment by previous administrations, it has worsened in recent years and can no longer be ignored.
The Government is putting our money where its mouth is. It promises that its latest housing strategy will supply up to 110,000 homes over the next six years, including 35,000 social housing units at a cost of €3.8bn. That remains to be seen.
Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly announced that the State will also support up to 75,000 households through what he called “an enhanced private rental sector”.
Announcing the strategy, Mr Kelly also promised to reform social housing supports to create what he called “a more flexible and responsive system”.
Let us hope that it delivers. Social groups like Focus Ireland point out that up to 800 people – many of them children – became homeless this year. Last month, in Dublin alone, 54 families lost their homes.
Relying on the private sector deliver may not be enough. While the new strategy is to be welcomed for placing the State back at the heart of social housing provision, the issue of rising home rents must also be addressed.
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