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Census figures highlight need for affordable housing- O'Sullivan

10 August 2017

Statement by Jan O'Sullivan TD
Spokesperson on Housing & Local Government, Enterprise & Innovation

Labour Housing spokesperson, Jan O’Sullivan TD, has said the latest Census figures on homelessness highlight the need for a national affordable housing scheme.

According to the data, nearly seven thousand people were homeless or in emergency accommodation last April, with families accounting for nearly half the total homeless population.

Deputy O’Sullivan commented:

“While these figures will come as no great surprise given the extent of the housing and homelessness crisis, I am particularly concerned that families and children accounted for nearly half of the total homeless population. 

“Data published since the Census date last year show that these figures have risen considerably.

“With the vast majority of homeless people centred in the Dublin region, it is clear that the issue of affordability in the housing and rental market needs to be urgently addressed.

“There has been much focus on social housing in this discussion, but we also need to ensure that affordable housing is available for rent or purchase for the many people on low or middle incomes who simply can’t afford to buy a house in the current context, especially in Dublin.

“There is now a strong argument for a national affordable housing scheme to be put in place. Despite the fact that the State has put up the funding to provide infrastructure for sites for housing construction and that 700 publicly owned sites have been identified for mixed tenure development, local authorities have no state scheme on which they can rely to ensure homes on these sites are affordable.

 "A recent report by property website Daft.ie for example, asserted that house prices have risen more in the first six months of this year than in the whole of last year. This is clearly an unsustainable situation that makes it extremely difficult for first-time buyers in particular to get onto the property ladder to begin with.

"One thing the Census data tells us clearly is that the situations families and individuals are in that has led to them being without homes are varied, and there is no one solution.  Whatever the cause, being homeless is a horrible existence, especially when children are involved.  They need a permanent home as soon as possible

"We need to see a sense of urgency about getting on with building social housing, using empty homes, and ensuring through a national scheme that homes that are built are affordable.  As the numbers grow, that is the only way there will be light at the end of the tunnel."