Sinn Féin - On Your Side


14 December, 2008 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, Martin Ferris TD

The Dail will this week debate a Private Members Motion tabled jointly by Labour and Sinn Féin TDs calling for a moratorium on house repossessions, an expanded programme of social housing, new measures to deal with the problem of homelessness, stronger protection for tenants in rented accommodation and legislation to regulate the activities of management companies. (Copy of motion attached).

The motion will be debated during Private Members Time on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Labour Party Spokesperson on Housing, Ciaran Lynch TD, said today:
"As we approach Christmas 2008 there are more people than ever on social housing waiting lists, an unprecedented number of families are facing the threat of having their homes repossessed and homelessness is as bad as ever.

"The threat of losing a home is possibly the greatest fear a family can face. Yet as unemployment grows more and more families who took on heavy mortgage repayments, based on incomes they were then earning, now find that as a result of the loss of one or more jobs, they are now coming under pressure from financial institutions. A spate of repossession orders in the New Year could create a social disaster and the government must now negotiate a moratorium on repossession orders for the duration of the recession.

"The social housing figures published during the week, which showed a jump from 43,700 to nearly 60,000 in just three years were truly shocking. These figures show the extent to which Fianna Fail squandered the boom, leaving tens of thousands of families high and dry without adequate housing. An expanded social housing programme would not only provide families with badly needed accommodation, but would also help to put the construction sector back to work."

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Deputy Aengus O'Snodaigh said, "This government has an appalling record of meeting social housing needs. It is failing to meet the urgent needs of society. It has failed to meet its own social and affordable housing targets by as much as 40% in recent years and this week we saw the Minister attempt to manipulate the published figures to mask the seriousness of the problem.

"Figures released by the Department of the Environment show that numbers on the housing list have increased by 30% since 2005 and have doubled over the last decade. Minister Finneran has admitted that at least 59,000 families are on the housing list. And it is our view that these figures underestimate the true level of need as many in need of housing were not included in the published figures. At a time when housing need across the state remains high and the construction industry is in crisis there is a responsibility on government to increase investment in housing in order to stabilise the economy and meet housing need.

"The level of homelessness continues to be at a serious level with an estimated 5,000 experiencing homelessness at any one time. And there are growing concerns at the increase in the number of repossessions, illegal evictions and problems facing people in rental accommodation. The joint Sinn Féin / Labour Motion brings forward concrete proposals to deal with the housing crisis in this state." ENDS



That Dail Éireann expressing its serious concern at

· the huge increase in the numbers on social housing lists which have jumped from 43,700 to nearly 60,000, an increase of more than 30% in just three years;
· the continuing problem of homelessness, with an estimated 5,000 experiencing homelessness at any one time;
· the worrying increase in the number of repossession orders for family homes being sought in the courts;
· the need for the proper implementation of an inspection regime regarding housing standards in the rental sector;
· the ongoing difficulties faced by many residents in both apartments and housing estates as a result of the unregulated operation of management companies;
· the failure of the government to honour the commitment contained in the Programme for Government to expand delivery of social and affordable housing options to meet the needs of 90,000 households;

calls on the government to:
· take steps to ensure that, where possible, existing, unsold housing units are secured for purposes of social housing;
· approve the construction of an additional 10,000 social housing units each year for the next three years;
· make Rent Supplement (RS) more employment friendly by bringing means assessment into line with differential rent schemes;
· enhance families' access to the Rental Accommodation Scheme;
· adequately resource and fully implement, 'The Way Home', a strategy to address adult homelessness;
· negotiate a new code of practice with the financial institutions providing for a moratorium on repossession orders for family homes during the current recession;
· Amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to provide for the creation of a national inspection regime regarding housing standards in the rental sector, along with the establishment of effective and efficient timeframes in which disputes should be resolved;
· publish as a matter of urgency a Bill, based on the draft provided by the Law Reform Commission, aimed at reforming the law on multi-unit developments including apartment developments.
· strengthen the powers of local authorities to deal with anti-social behaviour;
· broaden the terms of the current tenant purchase scheme along with allowing local authority tenants the right to buy their apartments.

Ciaran Lynch, Eamon Gilmore, Joan Burton, Emmet Stagg, Thomas P. Broughan, Joe Costello, Michael D.Higgins, Brendan Howlin, Kathleen Lynch, Liz McManus, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose,, Ruairí Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, Seán Sherlock, Róisín Shortall, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Jack Wall, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Martin Ferris, Arthur Morgan.

December 12, 2008

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