MakeRoom has written to the Department of Social Protection making the case that the current review of rent limits under the Rent Supplement scheme must take into account the Government's target of ending long-term homelessness by 2016. If we are to ensure that no-one is homeless for more than 6 months, then supporting people to live in decent, affordable private rented accommodation will be a hugely important route out of homelessness for many people who are currently living in emergency shelter. It is expected that the new rent limits will apply from July 2013. You can read the full submission here.
MakeRoom has proposed changes in the Housing Act which would allow local authorities to support services which help prevent people becoming homeless.
Most homeless services around the counrty are funded on the basis of Section 10 of the Housing Act, but the current wording of this actually only allows people to be helped after they have lost their home.
MakeRoom has now made a detailed submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht setting out why this legislation needs to be changed and how that should be done.
The full submission can be downloaded here.
Ireland still fails to deliver on its human rights obligations, in particular in relation to the Right to Housing and the Right to Health. The origins for these violations lie in the significant lack of protection for and promotion of social and economic rights in Ireland.
This is the result of a recent report submitted by MakeRoom and four other Irish NGOs to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the occasion of Ireland's examination under the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The UPR was established by the Human Rights Council of the UN in June 2007 and is a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. Ireland is one of the last countries to be examined. The review will take place in October 2011 and will be based on three different reports, including a stakeholder report compiling submissions from NGOs and national human rights institutions.
The NGO report to which MakeRoom contributed sets out the main issues in both health and housing as highlighted by the persons most affected by these rights violations, including people experiencing homelessness, and recommends specific targeted actions to the Irish government. In addition to MakeRoom, the other contributing organisations include Age Action Ireland, Disability Federation Ireland, Mental Health Reform and the Women's Human Rights Alliance.
MakeRoom welcomes the commitment from most major political parties in Ireland to keep homelessness on the political agenda. With the exception of Fianna Fail, all major parties refer to some of MakeRoom's key recommendations. While only the Green Party commits to the full implementation of the current Homelessness Strategy "The Way Home", Fine Gael commits to ending long-term homelessness and the need to sleep rough and Sinn Fein commits to ending long-term homelessness within two years of taking office and the provision of social housing for the accommodation of people experiencing homelessness. The Labour Party only commits to alleviating homelessness but highlights that it will do so following a "housing first" approach.
For a detailed analysis of the different party manifestos regarding homelessness, visit also Focus Ireland's website.
MakeRoom urges all political parties to commit in their political manifestos for the upcoming election to the implementation of the National Homeless Strategy and its six stragic goals, including preventing homelessness, eliminating the need to sleep rough, meeting long term housing need, ensuring effective services for people who are homeless and better coordinated funded arrangements.
One of the biggest barriers for implementing the strategy has been the lack of move on options, with the appropriate support, for people who are homeless. Many people are forced to stay in emergency homeless accommodation for longer than necessary which is expensive for the state and is unsuitable for meeting people's needs.
MakeRoom welcomes the fact that all Irish MEPs have signed the European Parliament Written Declaration on an EU homelessness strategy which was adopted by the European Parliament on the 16th December 2010. Ireland is the first country with a 100 % support rate for this important cross-party initiative.
The adoption of the Written Declaration is very timely and coincides with the closing of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. The European Parliament, as the only directly elected body of the European Union, sends out a strong political message that homelessness is an urgent issue affecting a growing share of individuals and families across Europe and an unacceptable violation of fundamental human rights. It calls upon the European Union and Member States to make concrete progress in the fight against homelessness and supports specific priorities for action.
MakeRoom has written to Irish MEPs urging them to support the European Parliament Written Declaration on an EU Homelessness Strategy. While Ireland already has a comprehensive and ambitious National Homelessness Strategies, MakeRoom believes that the Written Declaration would support effective complementary action from the European level and promote good practice exchanges between Ireland and other EU countries. The current Written Declaration builds on the previous WD on ending street homelessness 2008 that was signed by all Irish MEPs at the time.
Cutting services and supports to the most vulnerable in society, such as people experiencing homelessness and people at risk of homelessness, will not resolve Ireland's fiscal crisis or secure value for money in public expenditure, MakeRoom highlighted in its Pre-budget submission 2011.
In particular in the areas of housing provision, homeless services and prevention, any funding cuts would be absolutely detrimental to the aim of ending homelessness in Ireland.
Read full version of MakeRoom's Pre-budget Submission 2011