Prevention of homelessness key post Covid-19
Charity outlines steps needed to avoid more people becoming homeless
Tuesday, 5th April. Homeless charity Depaul has outlined key measures which they feel need to be addressed to avoid a second wave of homelessness post Covid-19. With unemployment set to reach 22% at its peak according to the Department of Finance the charity believes there is a real danger of more people presenting as homeless as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
Recently released figures for the month of March revealed the number of people experiencing homelessness in Ireland stands at 9,907, a drop on the previous months total. However, the charity believes this number could rise in the coming months if there are not strong, robust plans put in place.
These measures include:
- A rent freeze beyond the June 27th deadline.
- The moratorium on evictions extended beyond the June 27th deadline.
- An urgent change in the regulation of short-term lettings.
- A robust exit strategy for those currently in cocooning units in hotels.
- Allow Local Authorities the option of negotiating longer term leases with landlords.
- Referendum on the right to housing.
Speaking on the measures required Depaul’s CEO David Carroll says;
“It is imperative that measures are taken to prevent more individuals and families becoming homeless post Covid-19. Plans need to be put in place now in terms of mitigating against a further rise in the number of people experiencing homelessness in Ireland.
“Since the last recession homelessness in Ireland has grown exponentially. We are now facing into another recession and we simply cannot allow a scenario where homelessness grows again. Prevention is key as we have seen over the last number of years how difficult it has been to stem the flow of individuals and families into homelessness.
“There has been a strong effort put in by government departments, statutory agencies and everybody in the homeless sector and that has to be acknowledged and applauded. There has been a real drive to protect our most vulnerable however, that effort will be for nothing if we go back to the way things were before Covid-19. The time to plan is now and I would urge all stakeholders to sit down and begin this process.”
A recent report by the Residential Tenancies Board showed that the average national rent stood at €1,226 for the period quarter four 2019, up 6.4% on the same period last year. With almost 600,000 people receiving the government’s Covid-19 social welfare payment of €350 per week there exists a danger that post Covid-19 individuals and families may not be able to maintain tenancies.
Over 1,000 additional accommodation units have been secured in Dublin offering those experiencing homelessness and with underlying health conditions the ability to cocoon. This move has also seen a decrease in the number of people sleeping rough. These additional units have been secured mainly due to the downturn in the tourism sector as a result of Covid-19. The charity believes a clear exit plan is required to prevent people from ending up back on the street when restrictions are lifted.
It has also been reported that a large number properties used for short-term letting have become available due to Covid-19 which the charity believes need to be retained for the private and social rental market. An online monitoring company inside Airbnb estimates there are more than 7,200 short-term letting properties in Dublin. According to Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy up to 2,000 of these are second properties.
The charity also said that it has had to greatly change the way that it delivers services as a result of Covid-19. These changes include reducing capacity within accommodation based services to adhere to social distancing guidelines, operating services with minimal staffing levels and staff moving to 12 hour shifts. In addition all key-working has ceased to limit one-to-one interactions with service users at this time. The charity are also managing isolation and cocooning units which have been set in up conjunction with the Health Service Executive and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive.
For further reference contact:
Depaul Media Communications Officer Seán Ellis.
or 01 453 7111 / 086 383 2198