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Government policy ‘is making the housing crisis worse’ – Ellis

26 January, 2016 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has said that government policy has directly contributed to the housing crisis and no enough has been done to deliver social housing or help renters. He was making his comments as part of a debate on NAMA social housing in the Dáil tonight.

The Dublin North West TD said:

“This is a government quite clearly more interest in seeming to be doing something than actually tackling the issue. We have all heard the Minister repeatedly announce the same money again and again in different press releases and pronouncements. We know these pronouncements are spin we are on the ground in our communities and we know that the houses the government claims they are delivering are too often not new homes at all but simply new transfers from Rent Supplement to HAP or RAS. Far too often, they are simply smoke and mirrors or the work of other bodies like the voluntary housing organisations.

“Delivering housing for this government is slang for more subsidisation of the private market without any real increase in the social housing stock.  The fact is that this government has built less social housing in its lifetime than most governments before built in a single year. The fact in between January and September 2015 local authorities built just 28 social housing units. They couldn’t build housing because this government has starved them of funding for 5 years, while lumping a property tax on any social housing they have already and a site tax on any land they could build on if they ever got the money.

“Housing and those in need of housing are quite clearly not a priority for this government and claims that they will be in a month or a year are utter nonsense. The priority for this government in housing is lining the pockets of developers and protecting the precious market from any interference which would require it to function in a way which met the needs of the public.

“Sinn Fein have tabled an amendment to the motion to include a number of other points which we feel are essential for tackling the crisis as it stands. These include measures to address unaffordable rents. The government failed miserably last year to do this, introducing a pathetic delay in rent reviews which resulted in most renters getting exorbitant increases in November and early December.

“Rent controls and rent certainty are the only solution for this emergency situation which should have been tackled in 2013 at the latest. Allowing the PRTB and Local Authorities to set a local standard rate and tying future increases to inflation which has not been above 5% in recent memory would bring real security to tenants. Instead we now have 95% of people on rent supplement unable to meet the demands of the private rental market, this is a systemic problem which cannot be dealt with by well-meaning housing bodies on a case by case basis. 

“Regulating rent would allow for an increase in rent supplement which would not result in higher rents. Labour have the shameful record of having cut rent supplement not once but twice in this government and that has actually put families out on the street.

“If the state continues to subsidise the private market without regulating it, if the State continues to deny responsibility to build housing, if it continues to treat rent supplement recipients at risk of losing their home as an exception rather than the rule then we will get nowhere. If we do continue on as we have, then we are accepting that children will be raised in hotels rooms and hostels in this so called republic in 2016. 

“I don’t accept that and neither will the Irish people.” 

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