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06.36 20 May 2014


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Updated 16:50

The government's to invest €35 million to restore vacant houses and use them to accommodate families who risk becoming homeless.

The Housing Minister says the investment will mean over 1,700 extra properties will be available for social housing in the next few months.

Jan O'Sullivan also wants to work with NAMA to increase the supply of vacant properties which can be used for social housing.

Homeless families protest government policies in Dublin, pictured Jennifer Morris

The plan hopes to deliver 2,700 extra properties by 2016.

It will be overseen by a new Social Rental Agency, which hopes to co-ordinate efforts to avoid homelessness.

Minister O'Sullivan says she won't rule out the use of empty army barracks or Garda stations to house people if the need arises:Meanwhile, the Social Protection Minister has ruled out any increase in rent supplements before the next Budget.

Joan Burton says any increase in the current caps would have to be considered when Budget 2015 is drawn up later this year.

In response to written Dáil questions, Minister Burton said increasing the limits for rent supplement would only drive up the cost of rent for all people, including students and others on lower incomes.

The Public Expenditure Minister, Brendan Howlin said all State agencies will be asked to contribute property for use as emergency housing, where appropriate.

Abandoned housing is still a common sight in many parts of the country

Minister Brendan Howlin says nothing will be excluded from the review:

Problem of rents

The problem is being exacerbated cost of rent is rising and in many places it is far higher than local authority rent supplement can cover, leaving many young families squeezed out of the market.

Official figures say six people are becoming homeless every day. With waiting lists for social housing only getting longer, there is a real fear that Ireland could face a wave of homelessness in the coming months.

Yesterday, Barnardos criticised the Coalition for not seeing the urgent need to address families being put up in unsuitable accommodation. The Taoiseach Enda Kenny later said he accepted that something needs to be done.

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, told Newstalk's Breakfast she wants action:

 


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