Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Homelessness increase is no surprise due to government inaction –Ellis

12 March, 2015 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has said that a reported 40% increase in homelessness in the capital since last June is no surprise to those working with people in homelessness. He went on to say this was down to complete government inaction on tackling rising rents and the shortage of social housing.

He made his comments following a report from the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive which revealed 371 families, with 803 children, in emergency accommodation in Dublin last month, an increase of more than 40 per cent since June last year.

Deputy Ellis continued;

"Unfortunately this is no surprise to me. Every day I am getting more and more calls from desperate people, particularly parents of young families who have been forced into emergency accommodation and see no way out. They are often people who are working or had been working recently or people on Rent Supplement who are barred from work. They have lost their rented home because rent levels have simply become too high to pay and still be able to feed and clothe their children.

Rents in Dublin have gone up at least 34% since this government took office. Low income families and people on rent supplement have felt these increases hardest being faced with unaffordable rent increase and in the case of Rent Supplement recipients being forced to hand over more of their social welfare payments in illegal top-ups demanded by landlords.

The government have so far refused to introduce any measures to regulate rent levels which are now well above what is reasonable in the capital. Housing is too important to level to be regulated by private landlords themselves who receive large subsidies from government through RAS and Rent Supplement already. We need measures which will reduce or freeze rents by setting a fair market standard rate and limiting future increases to a certain limit in line with inflation and other costs. Minister Kelly's plan to bribe landlords with tax breaks is not good enough and won't work.

We also need to start building council homes. The government promised to deliver 7400 homes this year but 5000 of those are expected to come from the private market. Private construction has slowed and there is a massive shortage of rental properties already, which is why we have the rent crisis. The government should divert these funds into building council housing and use a further 1 billion euro from the strategic investment fund to deliver at least an extra 6500 homes. Those in emergency accommodation will remain homeless if there are no homes for them or rent remains too high.

At present we spend about 5 million a year in Dublin providing hotel rooms for homeless families. We spend about half a billion euro subsidising private landlords and this is set to increase due to government plans to expand private subsidy. We cannot afford to continue this and we cannot afford to allow people to remain homeless. Investment in housing and controlling rents is the only real solution."

Connect with Sinn Féin