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Government must act to protect those at risk of homelessness – Ellis

1 December, 2015 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has called on the government to do what he described as the “bare minimum” to protect people at risk of homelessness by providing rent certainty and other prevention measures. He made his comments as part of a debate on legislation tabled by Sinn Féin to introduce limits on rent increases and measures to prevent people from becoming homeless.

Deputy Ellis said:

“This Bill provides for measures to prevent homelessness by supporting tenants at risk of losing their home and by putting in place Rent Certainty by limiting how much a landlord can increase rent during a rent review to within the rate of inflation. At present, under housing legislation there is no definition for a person who is at-risk of homelessness and so preventative measures are limited by this.

“Homelessness has become an epidemic under this government due to their refusal to build social housing; only delivering a handful of units this year and far less than was built under previous governments. 1500 children are sleeping in emergency accommodation tonight and many more are at risk of their families becoming homeless due to a failure to provide housing and tackle unaffordable rents.

“The government’s plan to delay rent reviews will simply kick the can down the road. We need rent certainty to limit future increases to bring stability and rent controls in the future which will ensure fair rates for tenants. Sinn Fein are clear that it is unacceptable and immoral to raise rents further in this climate of severe housing need and what Peter McVerry has very aptly described as a ‘tsunami’ of homelessness.

“Sinn Féin in government would have invested substantially in the construction, acquisition and refurbishment of social housing for the last five years creating jobs, providing homes, generating rental revenue and making savings in rent supplement and emergency accommodation by doing so.

“We would have introduced rent controls which would limit the amount that can be charged per square metre based on local area rates and limit increases to the rate of inflation. If this had been done rents would be significantly lower right now and we would not need to be spending €70 million a year just to stand still on the homeless crisis.

“The provisions of this Bill are the absolute minimum Sinn Féin would do in government and that is why we have put it to the house tonight. If the government reject this bill tonight, it shows that they have learned nothing from the last five years.” 

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