Housing and homelessness crisis gone from disaster to calamity - Mary Lou McDonald TD
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has called for the introduction of a temporary tax relief for renters, alongside a three year emergency rent freeze.
In respect of tackling the housing and homelessness crisis, she said “We desperately need a change of direction and a change of policy. That means taking bold and urgent action".
Teachta McDonald said:
“This summer has seen the housing and homelessness crisis go from disaster to calamity.
“The most recent homelessness figures show the number of homeless individuals now stands at nearly ten thousand people and the number of families accessing emergency accommodation stands at 1,778 - that’s 349 more families than the same month last year.
“Scandalously, the number of homeless children has increased again - there are now 3,867 children sleeping in emergency accommodation.
“Service providers are reduced to referring families to Garda stations due to the lack of emergency accommodation and in the course of the summer we witnessed the horrific site of a family of seven sleeping in Tallaght Garda station.
“Rental costs have spiralled out of control, house prices continue to be above affordable levels and tens of thousands of homes lie vacant across the State.
“Naturally, people have responded and some have come out to protest the government’s failures.
“The response? Overreaction to the peaceful occupation of a building in my own constituency that had been empty for three years. A private security firm arrived in unmarked cars, escorted by Gardaí, to evict a handful of peaceful protesters - an absolutely disproportionate response.
“Contrast that with the government’s response to the housing crisis - a response that is underwhelming, under resourced and inadequate.
"The government’s flagship housing policy - Rebuilding Ireland - has been in place now for two years and yet the crisis deepens.
“Instead of getting to grips with the emergency, the government has attacked local authorities and opposition parties and failed to see their own failures. Spin over substance and a refusal to accept their policies are failing - that is the hallmark of the government’s approach.
“We desperately need a change of direction and a change of policy. That means taking bold and urgent action.
“Sinn Féin has proposed the introduction of a temporary tax relief for renters, alongside a three year emergency rent freeze. Existing tenancies would have their rents frozen at their current levels and new tenancies would be pegged to the RTB’s average rent index.
“That would be a proper response to the crisis and I would urge the Taoiseach to introduce this.”