I’m speaking on Housing while concentrating specifically on the enormous impact the lack of Social Housing Build has had over the decades, but particularly over the past six years of the recession.
The failed policy of filling the pockets of private Landlords with rent supplement is beginning to fail in a catastrophic way as has been highlighted by Sinn Féin for years. Housing applicants have been victimised by their landlords, charging them more than the threshold allowed and leaving the tenant to pay the difference between the supplement and the real rent. This has pushed thousands of Families further into poverty ensuring the profits of the landlords continued to increase.
A more recent problem is that it’s becoming almost impossible - in Dublin at least to acquire private rented property for your Family if you are paying with rent supplement. This is blatant class discrimination against a growing number of people who are in dire need of Accommodation. This in turn is forcing record numbers into Homelessness ranging from, Hostels to rough sleeping in our Communities.
I’m calling on the Minister to introduce regulation that demands an immediate end to this mass CLASS discrimination and enable Families to acquire suitable accommodation while they await their permanent Home. The labour Party famously promised to eradicate Homelessness by 2016. Instead of this, there has been a record breaking increase in the number of Citizens becoming Homeless.
This scandal will not be addressed until the Government realise that a large scale building programme is required to deal with the more than 90,000 Families on our Housing lists.
In Tallaght, South Dublin in 2008 our list had 5,00 applicants, by 2011 this had double to 10,500 despite the best efforts of the Cllrs and staff. In 2008 we had over 300 homes planned at final stage in Tallaght alone. We are still waiting - despite a change in Government and numerous promises to invest in Social Housing.
Last year, we as Councillors were asked to rush through proposals for ‘shovel ready’ social housing proposals to the Ministers Office as there was imminent funding to start building immediately. Despite rushed consultations with residents in Tallaght, Clondalkin and elsewhere the promised imminent funding never arrived.
Citizens are crying out for Housing, the lack of investment is forcing Family break downs, it is putting a strain on Mental Health Services, charitable organisations, Voluntary Housing bodies and Local Authorities who I believe are doing their best to be innovative in delivering a service that is almost impossible to deliver with the funding provided by Government. We in Sinn Féin oppose the property tax and we have fully costed alternative proposals to replace it but last year the Labour Party promised every Council would get 80% of the tax collected. We in South Dublin received 0% and a more than €15M cut in our Local Government Fund. This is all part of Phil Hogan’s master plan to increase the efficiency and capacity of Local Government. No-one believes you Phil.
Last year South Dublin delivered approximately 600 homes across all fields including transfers, RAS and Leasing. With South Dublin being the second largest housing Authority in the state and one of the most successful in terms of housing delivery, it is only possible to barely match new application with allocations. This is completely unsustainable.
The Housing crisis is a National scandal that needs to be addressed immediately and Minister O’Sullivan however nice a person she is needs to stop the rhetoric and the spin and get her Cabinet Colleagues to get up off their collective arses and start funding Social Housing Build across the State without delay.