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Private market won't solve housing crisis for government - Ellis

23 January, 2015 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has condemned figures from the government which show that the bulk of housing promised this year in the recent "Social Housing Strategy 2020" will be sought through the private market. He was commenting on figures released following questions by Deputy Ellis to Minister Alan Kelly seeking more detail on government's promises. He said this policy relied on a market to deliver affordable housing at levels it was either unwilling or unable to do so.

Deputy Ellis said;

"The government is seeking to solve the social housing crisis by doing the exact same thing as previous government did which landed us in this mess to begin with. They are denying their central responsibility to provide social housing and seeking to subsidise the private market to house people who ordinarily could not afford their inflated prices.

“The government had promised to deliver 7400 social houses this year. But the governments definition of delivering social housing is not one most people would recognise. They plan not to build or acquire homes for rent by local authorities for the most part but to provide access to 5000 private homes through long-term leasing or shorter-term arrangements with private landlords under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS)

“We have over 200,000 people in need of housing in this state, many of those children who are currently in emergency accommodation, sleeping on couches, sharing beds often in housing not fit for habitation. Recently in north Dublin a young women we were helping had to move her children out of their bedroom due to mould which threatened their health. She was already receiving rent supplement.

“The private market is unable or unwilling to deal with this problem. It is up to the state to make a real investment and ensure the right to a home is protected for everyone. We need a major building project for local authority housing as well as policy changes to help allow local authorities to access credit to build homes as they see fit. This is the only way to provide affordable, safe and secure housing for those left out by the high prices of the private market. Where the government will find 5000 private homes for this scheme I do not know, there is a serious shortage of private rental accommodation at the moment with vacancies at record lows.

"We already subsidise the private market by nearly half a billion euro a year. The government needs to get real about providing housing and put the vast bulk of its supposed investment into real social housing through local authorities." 

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