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Housing strategy must prioritise new council builds - Ellis

25 November, 2014 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has said that any new housing strategy from the government must prioritise the construction of new homes by local authorities while putting in place measures to regulate the private rental market and protect tenancies.

He made his comments in the run up to an announcement later this week on the governments housing strategy plans for the remainder of its term.

Deputy Ellis said;

"We have a truly devastating crisis which needs immediate action to bring new homes into the system, not plans for the future from a government on the ropes. We need to see plans for capital investment in housing which will deliver a large number of homes as quickly as possibleand for them to be council owned homes. The local authorities are best placed to provide and maintain these homes while ensuring they are occupied.

“This would create jobs, save money on rent supplement and emergency accommodation while generating council revenue through rents. It is not just socially but economically beneficial to house people through local authorities.

“The government has hinted at a greater role for voluntary bodies but this is just another form of the old policy of passing off responsibility to others for housing. Voluntary bodies provide a great service and have an important part to place in the system but they cannot solve the problem and they should not be expected to. The housing crisis was created when government policy moved away from building council homes and it will not begin to be remedied until that policy is reversed.

“We need to see detailed plans to investment in follow-on housing for those in emergency accommodation, with targets and deadlines, as well as for traveller accommodation provision. The number of people sleeping rough, in hostels or on derelict, unserviced sites must be progressively reduced and the government must say how this will be done and how long they think it will take. Well-meaning words and vague aspirations have not done anything to house the over 200,000 people in need of appropriate housing in this state over the last three years and they won't start to any time soon.

“There is also an urgent need for intervention in the private market to get empty rental properties on the market and occupied, to protect tenants from further rent hikes and to keep tenants in their homes when their landlord fails to keep up the mortgage. 

“Things will only begin to improve when we treat the rental housing system in a holistic way regulating the private market and investing and growing the stock of social housing in the state.”

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