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Government over-reliant on private market for housing solution - Ellis

1 April, 2015 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has criticised the government for over-relying on the private market to deliver housing as part of its strategy to deal with social housing need and homelessness. The deputy made his comments following an announcement of how money would be allocated to Local Authorities as part of the government’s housing strategy up until 2017.

Deputy Ellis said;

"These figures attempt to mislead the public and the media into believing that the government can really deliver these numbers of units as part of their plan. We can deliver much more housing with proper investment and we welcome this funding, but it is far too reliant on the delivery of private housing subsidised by the state in order to tackle need. The private market cannot deliver much of these houses and do not present a secure and affordable option for many who need housing right now.

“The government have promised a 25% reduction in waiting lists which is completely unrealistic. To achieve this would require the complete delivery of all private sector housing which will never happen. As much as two thirds of the homes the government claim they will deliver for the state are expected to come from a private market which has shown itself unwilling and unable in many cases to meet demand.

“In South Dublin County Council we know that of the 1445 units promised 900 are to come from the private market and to be subsidised with RAS or social leasing arrangements. Most councils have been told that at least 50% of money allocated will be used to subsidise private housing.

“RAS and other forms of these schemes have been shown to be insecure and vulnerable to market trends which have pushed many tenants out of their homes and into homelessness in recent years. RAS accommodation also becomes an annual expense with no return for councils.

“The government also wants us to believe that it is delivering more homes through the Housing Assistance Payment. However, many of these will simply be existing Rent Supplement tenants who will be removed from the housing waiting lists and denied any chance of leaving private rental accommodation in the future. This will artificially lower housing waiting lists while not actually providing appropriate housing.

“The government must refocus on delivery more social housing units built and managed by Local Authorities. These expected figures for RAS units for the private market are the stuff of fairytales. We must prioritise delivering housing where it can be by councils and fast tracking existing projects and getting plans in place where needed. We have already had to wait nearly 5 months for this announcement having waiting 5 years for the government to wake up to housing need in this state."

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