Sinn Féin Dáil motion on social housing shortage launched
Sinn Féin housing spokesperson, Dessie Ellis TD, has called on the Minister for Housing to take immediate action to deal with the continuing crisis in social housing with nearly 100,000 people on the state's housing waiting lists and deteriorating public housing leading to health concerns.
His made his comments as he and finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, launched the Sinn Féin motion, to be tabled next week in the Dáil, dealing with the shortage in social housing and mortgage distress.
Deputy Ellis continued:
“This motion is an important step in raising the many problems that continue in social housing in this state and takes the government to task on their inaction in dealing with the crisis.
“There are 98,000 households on waiting lists for Local Authority Housing in this state. These people are living in cramped unsuitable conditions and in the current system will be waiting a very long time to be housed appropriately.
“There are 94,000 people receiving Rent Supplement and 23,000 in the Rental Accommodation Scheme. These cost the state nearly half a billion euro a year but bring us no closer to a long-term sustainable provision of housing.
“The government’s only proposal has been to pass responsibility for social housing onto the private market and give greater workload to the overburdened voluntary sector. They have hailed social leasing from NAMA as a great solution but it will cost the state considerably and has only delivered 179 homes in three years.
“We need the state to make a real commitment to providing social housing and recognising the people's right to housing. We have outlined already how funding could be secured for the building of thousands of homes which would create employment and give a decent home to tens of thousands of people. The minister must listen to our proposals and treat the issue with the seriousness it deserves.
“Funding is laid out in our Jobs Creation document released late last year.
Text of motion:
That Dáil Éireann
· The two biggest issues in housing are mortgage distress and the lack of social housing.
· That the current government has pursued a policy to pass responsibility for providing social housing onto the private sector and has continued to deplete the public housing stock.
· One in four mortgage holders in the 26 Counties is in distress, tens of thousands more are at risk of distress.
· 115 mortgage holders are falling into distress every day
· Fine Gael and Labour have failed to fully implement the recommendations on the Keane Report into the Mortgage Crisis
· The Central Bank and the financial institutions are failing to be proactive
· The Personal Insolvency Act 2012 will do little for the vast majority of mortgage holders currently in distress
· Despite the fact that Sinn Féin and others have since 2011 called for an independent statutory mortgage distress body to adjudicate and enforce agreements on mortgages between banks and mortgage holders, the Personal Insolvency Act establishes a Personal Insolvency Service but does not adequately deal specifically with the area of mortgage distress
· This government since 2011 has cut spending on housing by 19% to €585 million leaving Local Authority Housing desperately underfunded resulting in 98,318 households on waiting lists for Local Authority Housing in this state.
· There are 23,649 people housed as part of the Rental Accommodation Scheme and 94,000 people are in receipt of Rent Supplement with recent cuts to Rent Supplement rates making securing affordable housing even more difficult and in some cases led to families being made homeless.
· That the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA) is mandated to provide a social dividend, yet only 179 units have so far been provided for housing
Calls on the government to;
· Remove the veto given to lenders over proposed insolvency agreements in the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 and prioritise the maintenance of the family home in any agreements dealing with residential mortgages.
· Provide in the legislation for the independent adjudication and enforcement on mortgage distress cases, through a new category of agreement to be known as ‘independent agreement on mortgage distress’ which will be adjudicated by a ‘mortgage restructuring panel’ appointed by the Minister who would have the statutory power to agree and impose agreements on lending institutions where the panel believes that such agreements would enable the mortgage holders to remain in the family home
· Include the possibility of write downs on portions of the mortgage debt as well as other options such as debt for equity swaps, mortgage to rent and short selling in the options available when reaching ‘mortgage restructuring agreements’.
· Take more direct action with the Central Bank to force lending institutions to adopt a more proactive and lender friendly approach to the mortgage crisis.
· Ensure NAMA contributes to “the social and economic development of the State” in providing any housing units in its portfolio suitable for social housing.
· Develop a plan to commence the building at least 5,000 housing units by the end of 2013, with a further 4,000 houses by the second half of 2014 for the public housing system, including the use of social housing bonds to fund these projects.
· Restore funding for Traveller accommodation to its 2010 level.
Brian Stanley, Gerry Adams, Michael Colreavy, Seán Crowe, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Mary Lou McDonald, Sandra McLellan, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Jonathan O'Brien, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Peadar Tóibín.