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Saturday 23 August 2014

Charities want building programme and rent controls to tackle homelessness

Paul Melia

Published 17/07/2014 | 02:30

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'Rent control measures must be introduced to curb unsustainable rent increases and give greater stability and certainty to tenants and landlords'
'Rent control measures must be introduced to curb unsustainable rent increases and give greater stability and certainty to tenants and landlords'

A MASSIVE public house-building programme and rent controls are needed to combat the growing housing crisis, it has been claimed.

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Charities have called on the Government to invest €500m next year in building at least 3,000 homes and to increase rent supplement payments and impose caps on rents in order to protect vulnerable families.

A total 39 families became homeless in Dublin last month alone, Threshold said, with the supply of houses coming on to the market dwindling.

Despite more than 90,000 people on housing waiting lists – the real number is believed to be substantially higher – just 750 social housing units were delivered in 2013.

"Budget 2015 is an opportunity for the Government to introduce truly effective and targeted measures to prevent more families becoming homeless, to increase the supply of housing for vulnerable families and to tackle the various problems caused by rapidly rising rents," Threshold chief executive Bob Jordan said.

"We are calling on the Government to increase rent supplement limits in a targeted way to help those living in high-demand areas.

"Rent control measures must be introduced to curb unsustainable rent increases and give greater stability and certainty to tenants and landlords."

The comments were made at the Dail Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Committee which was examining pre-Budget submissions from Threshold, Focus Ireland, the Simon Communities and Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV).

The IPAV said a National Property Authority should be established to advise the Housing Minister, vacant sites in cities should be used for housing and planning permissions for apartments should be turned into permission for houses.

"Incentives to purchase are of little use if there is not an adequate supply," chief executive Pat Davitt said.

Focus Ireland said €500m in 2015, and €1bn per year thereafter, should be invested in social housing, while the Simon Communities said the number of properties available for rent was falling. Rents have risen in some cases by as much as 40pc, pricing people out of the market and forcing many into homelessness.

"A review of rent supplement limits needs to be carried out now," Simon's head of policy, Niamh Randall, said.

Irish Independent

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