Threshold welcomes this commitment to deliver on affordable housing, but still calls on the Government to KEEP their commitment to the social housing build –
The national housing organisation Threshold, welcomes the Government’s commitment to release land on which to build affordable housing, announced by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern today at the ICTU conference, which honours the commitments made in the partnership agreement Sustaining Progress. Threshold supports any initiative taken by Government to make good quality affordable housing available to people. However, our concern is that this commitment is taking place in a context of lengthening local authority waiting lists, on which 85% of the households have incomes below €15,000. The difficulty with this form of scheme is that the houses still have to be purchased, even if at a reduced rate, and for a very significant number of people out there on housing lists, many of whom are our clients, they will never be able to afford this. Affordable housing is not an anti poverty measure, and our concern is that this will do nothing for long term unemployed, disabled, and disadvantaged members of our society. Local Authority output of social housing in 2002 was up 20% (4,500 units) but this is a long way of the National Development Plan target of 41,500 units. Reaching this target will require local authorities to build 8,000 units a year for the next 4 years. Patrick Burke, Director, Threshold said “While we welcome today’s announcement, we now call on the Taoiseach to say how he is going to make specific the rather vague commitments to social housing made in Sustaining Progress. He is honouring his commitment to the supply of affordable housing, but we need to hear how he is going to achieve his targets on social housing provisions as outlined in the National Development Plan.”
Social Housing Slashed in Government Estimates Most Vulnerable in Society Face Accommodation Crisis
The provision Social Housing is facing its most severe test in recent decades with Capital Spending programme slashed for 2003. This represents a disaster for those most vulnerable in society coming a day after the Department of Environment and Local Government announced that Social Housing waiting lists rose dramatically by 23.5% in three years.
The allocation to the Dept. of Environment and Local Government for local authority and social housing programmes for 2003 is €931m which is €57m less than that spent in 2002 and €156m short of what is required to deliver on the commitments in the NDP. The Government’s estimates reveal a reprehensible and short-sighted cut in investment in social housing says Threshold, the National Housing Organisation. Slashing spending to house people in need destroys the hopes of some 50,000 households who have been waiting on local authority lists for adequate accommodation. Kieran Murphy, Director of Threshold said, “Instead of the increased number of social housing units promised by the NDP and some shrinkage in the length of waiting lists, we face the prospect of worsening conditions for those amongst us who are least able to adjust.” He added, “It is disturbing to discover that the needs of people living in inadequate accommodation not only were the last to get attention during the Irish economic boom, but also are amongst the first to be hit by the downturn. ENDS For further information or comment, please contact Threshold on: 01- 678 6096