Child Homelessness Concerns Remain Unaddressed

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The annual budget announcement is a significant event, particularly for organizations working to combat child homelessness. Within this context, the allocation for housing plays a crucial role, as homelessness remains the most severe form of poverty. Yet, despite the substantial surplus available to the government in Budget 2024, it appears to have fallen short in adequately addressing the housing and homeless crisis, particularly concerning the welfare of children. Child Homelessness Concerns Remain Unaddressed

The urgent need for a substantial increase in social and cost-rental housing is unquestionable. While Budget 2024 allocates funding for an additional 9,300 social homes, this figure falls short of the 2022 target by 1,567 homes. Failing to meet these targets in the midst of a housing and homelessness crisis is unacceptable. Given the budget surplus and the pronounced emphasis on child poverty and well-being, it is disappointing that no clear commitment was made to transitioning children from emergency accommodations into state-built homes.

Budget 2024 also introduced a €35 million acquisition fund, managed by the Housing Agency, designated for Housing First acquisitions. Unfortunately, Housing First has not been extended to families. Shockingly, homelessness has surged at an alarming rate in 2023, with family homelessness increasing by 88% since the introduction of Housing for All in 2021.

The tax credit for renters, first introduced in Budget 2023, retains its eligibility criteria. Consequently, many households are excluded from the €750 rent credit, as it is exclusively available to renters who earned a minimum of €20,000 in the previous year and did not receive any state housing subsidy.

Another noteworthy aspect of Budget 2024 is the introduction of additional tax relief for landlords. This relief incrementally increases the rental income disregard to €5,000 by 2026, with the condition that landlords remain in the rental market for the entire five-year relief period. This tax relief does not provide the required stability and security that children need while growing, developing, and progressing through the education system.

Budget 2024 aims to address the housing needs of up to 10,200 new households through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS). Support will also continue for over 74,000 existing tenancies under these schemes. Advocates have consistently called for the introduction of a dedicated homeless prevention budget and increases in HAP and Rent Supplement rates. Additionally, support for tenants in rent arrears is essential, as the private rented sector continues to play a significant role in accommodating low-income households.

While the budget outlines tax measures and an increase in the number of households availing housing subsidies, it falls short of providing the certainty needed by families and individuals living in the private rented sector. The most effective means to make renting more affordable and secure for low-income households remains the availability of an increased supply of social and affordable cost-rental homes.

In conclusion, Budget 2024 is a step toward the goal of providing every individual with an affordable, secure, and suitable home. However, it falls short in comprehensively understanding the true scale of the housing and homeless crisis, particularly when it comes to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable, particularly children experiencing homelessness.

Child Homelessness Concerns Remain Unaddressed

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