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Is Temporary Good Enough Now?


Is Temporary Good Enough Now?

Having been homeless myself I know what it feels like not having a permanent roof over my head.  Now, 10 years later, homelessness in Ireland is a serious problem. We are now seeing people of all ages and families on our streets. Families through no fault of their own have been forced out of private rental accomodation due to high rental prices been enforced by landlords. We have not seen anything like this since the Land League years.  It’s time the Government made Housing Policy a real priority and looked at some real solutions.

In the 1940’s, despite Ireland suffering the impact of the trade war with Britain, the Government engaged in massive slum clearances, large housing estates were developed around the City of Dublin. Fast-forward to 2015, homelessness in Ireland is once again, a crisis issue. We have people dying on our streets, and yet our serving government seem unwilling to take necessary steps to solve the situation, is this ideological? Not only are solutions like public housing (state owned rented housing available to anyone at subsidized prices according to means) not even suggested, but milder remedies such as rent caps, or tax incentives for cooperative building are completely ignored.

The budget of 2015 has passed us by, and homeless, indeed housing, has still not been placed as a sincere priority.

Since our serving Government took to power in the Dáil, they have enforced severe cuts as part of the austerity ideology; this will come as news to no one, however, if within this constrictive ideology there is room to manoeuvre.  Last year, €250 000 was spent on temporary housing for a small number of homeless during the winter months.  They could have bought a house in the suburbs for a homeless family for that!  Similarly, if we were to use innovative building ideas like utilising shipping containers (See Here).

In other countries across the world they have a system in place called rent control, which we will define as a price control that limits the amount a property owner can charge for renting out a home, apartment or other real estate. Rent control acts as a price ceiling by preventing rents either from being charged above a certain level or from increasing at a rate higher than a predetermined percentage. If we had this kind of system in place, we may not be seeing people pushed onto our streets.

It is also true that the State has a huge number of empty properties lying idle. What good is an empty house or flat? The Government had a plan for 2015 to deliver 15,800 units. But out of that figure 13,000 of these units will be for the private sector, and only 1,400 of those will be a new build, and that’s for the whole State. This is insufficient to meet new applications on the list, let alone help the ones who have already applied.

There are 130,000 people currently on the housing list. Sadly, the ideological bent of the Government is to hand over €600 million in rent to private landlords rather than invest that money into public housing for the population.  In addition, through the Living City Initiative, there was a genuine opportunity to provide additional rental accommodation through renovation tax cuts for residential properties in the city; sadly, this became another commercial tax break (read more here).

In the vein of bad housing policy, the DCC is to build 500 modular homes aimed directly for the homeless list; they do state this is a temporary solution. Let’s look at this from a safety view. Earlier this month, a fire killed 10 people in a halting site in Dublin. If these modular homes are built not using concrete and cement blocks could they be at risk from a fire?  Can this be seen as a satisfactory solution even for the short term?

In Ireland today there is over 270.000 empty houses and flats complexes. The State has never owned so much housing stock and during one of its worse housing crisis’s!

What We Must Do:

Stop banks from evicting tenants from properties.

Bring in some form of Rent Control

Demand that there are at least 10.000 new buildings a year

We have 657 Families including 1,383 children living in emergency accommodation alone in Dublin City. That a 55 % rise in the homelessness since January of this year.

On the Dublin based housing list, there are 21,000 applications seeking a house, and 130.000 nationwide. In the Dublin 8 and Dublin 12 areas there is 7,000 applications waiting to get a house and 3,000 of them have been waiting 5 years or more.

Only recently a lady who was waiting on the Dublin housing List was awarded a house in Ballyfermot, she was waiting nearly 15 years! Her 3 children are now young adults, and two of them have already left their nest.

We are a first world European State; we should act like one in dealing with our housing crisis.

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