A massive underspend in the Government’s housing budget is “really, really concerning”, according to the Simon Communities.
The Sunday Independent reports that nearly €500m of the Government’s housing budget for the first nine months of the year has not been spent.
A Cabinet memo last week revealed that €476 million of the Department of Housing’s €4bn a year Housing for All budget has not been used.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Simon Communities Head of Policy Wayne Stanley said the figures are very worrying.
“I would say it fills me with dread,” he said.
“I mean, the Simon Communities of Ireland are working with people who are at risk of homelessness or experiencing homelessness
“They need homes; the answer to homelessness is a home so seeing this level of underspend is really, really concerning – particularly in the context of the current crisis."
"We recently brought in a moratorium on evictions because there is just no, even, emergency space left throughout our local authorities or throughout our systems – the Simon Communities or any of the other NGOs who provide support and care to people who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness.”
Speaking to On the Record with Gavan Reilly yesterday, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar noted that the year is not over yet – and more of the funds will be spent in the coming months.
He insisted there is "no lack of political will" to end the housing crisis, noting that there are “real constraints” on the construction sector – including labours shortages and the availability of materials.
Mr Stanley said the Government must be doing all it can to make sure there is no wave of homelessness when the current eviction ban is lifted.
“From the Simon Community perspective, we need to see people protected,” he said. “The moratorium is in there now for the next five months. That is really welcome and it is going to make a difference.
“But what we need to do is put in there that essential infrastructure of homes that is going to keep people, when the moratorium lifts, so that we don’t have a huge increase in homelessness at that point.”
He said authorities need to end their overreliance on the private sector.
“In the first instance, we need to focus on our local authorities and building up that infrastructure,” he said.
“We wouldn’t go to the private sector and say get busy building roads.
“We recognise roads as important infrastructure and we need to see homes in the same way and we need to see our local authorities building.”
The Taoiseach Micheál Martin will today attend the official sod turning for Ireland’s largest affordable housing scheme at Shanganagh, near Shankill.
Almost 600 homes are expected to be delivered in the development.
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