Cork housing groups not happy with budget changes

Cork housing groups not happy with budget changes
HOMELESS SLEEPING ROUGH SLEEPING BAG. HOMELESSNESS.

HOUSING charities in Cork have criticised many of the measures unveiled in yesterday's budget.

While increased funding in the sector has been broadly welcomed, officials have said that many of the measures will not achieve anything as demand continues to outstrip supply.

Finance Minister Pashal Donohoe announced a total allocation of €1.9 billion for the sector yesterday, an increase of 46% on last year. Of this, some €1.14 billion has been earmarked for the delivery of almost 5,900 social homes through a mix of construction and acquisition, though there was no mention of affordable housing in the budget, an aspect which has been harshly criticised by the Cork Simon Community.

Paul Sheehan, communications and campaigns manager at the charity, said there was little substance to much of what was announced in terms of housing.

"When you scratch at the surface, some of the shine wears off," he said.

"There is some social housing moves, but not enough. It is good that they have acknowledged the issues in housing in the country, but there aren't enough steps taken to rectify them.

"While the additional funding for emergency accommodation is welcome, this should only ever be a short-term solution and it is becoming a long-term requirement for some people.

"The rollout of the HAP and Place Finder schemes are good in theory but if the private housing isn't there, there is nowhere for people to go."

Mr Sheehan said it was 'very disappointing' that there were no specific measures to tackle vacant buildings. While promises of a 'multi-annual urban renewal fund' were alluded to, there was no mention of increased taxes on vacant homes.

Mr Sheehan added, "There is a lot in the announcement but will it be followed by action? Too often we have seen plans and reviews and more plans and, then, no action on the ground.

"There was nothing significant to change the issues facing people. For example, an extra 4,000 houses fall some way short of the 5,000 we sought and the 10,000 per annum that we need.

"There was nothing to close the gap between rent supplement and HAP and the market rent. Nothing about affordable housing.

"Quite simply, if the supply isn't there, then it will all have limited impact."

Threshold has also given a cautious reaction to the measures announced in the budget.

They welcomed the allocation of additional funding but called for greater clarity on some of the measures, including the changes of funding to HAP.

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