IMPACT calls for immediate investment in social housing programme

IMPACT trade union has urged the new Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly, to take immediate action to address the homelessness crisis.

The call by Ireland’s largest public sector trade union follows reports in today’s Irish Times that Dublin City Council has requested €25.5 million from the Department of the Environment to increase housing stock, in response to the National Homeless Implementation Plan (NHIP), which sets out the objective of ending homelessness by 2016.

This would see an additional 1,306 dwellings being allocated to homeless families between now and 2016, along with the refurbishment of a further 211 vacant units.

Joe O’Connor, Organiser for IMPACT’s Boards & Voluntary Agencies branch, said the union welcomed the decision of Dublin City Council to reverse planned €6 million in cuts for this year, but that funding by central government needs to be reviewed. “Our recent campaign to protect Dublin City Council budgets for homelessness services was very widely supported, with 106 local election candidates pledging to protect funding for this term of local government. That pledge needs to be met with a commitment from central government capable of ending the current homelessness crisis” he said.

Mr O’Connor said that the union had written to the new Minister for the Environment and Housing, Alan Kelly TD, calling for the complete reversal of central government’s €4.3 million cut in budget provision since 2012. “Nothing less than a reversal of those cuts will be necessary in order to prevent future budget shortfalls for these vital services. We are in the midst of a crisis on homelessness, and all Government action needs to reflect that. The social housing strategy due to be published by the Government needs to commit to the level of investment required” he said.

Ashley Connolly, assistant general secretary with IMPACT, added “The provision of the basic human need of shelter for all of our citizens should be right at the top of the Government’s priority list for the remainder of its term. If we want to meet the National Homeless Implementation Plan’s commendable objective of eradicating homelessness by 2016, we need to commit to a substantial programme of investment in social housing that meets current demand and prevents against future crises of the scale we are witnessing now.”
IMPACT trade union has urged the new Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly, to take immediate action to address the homelessness crisis.