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Government must accept responsibility for housing crisis - Dessie Ellis TD

24 August, 2015 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin TD and Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis has condemned the Minister for Environment and the government for recent attacks in the media on charities and local authorities in relation to the housing crisis. He made his comments following statements from the Minister for Environment and other government members which placed the blame for the housing and homelessness crisis at the door of charities and local councils for not building housing.

Deputy Ellis said;

"This government have an atrocious record on housing. For four years they ignored the issue completely and put in place policies which actually made the problem worse. They have cut the young person’s dole and rent supplement as well as placing unrealistic caps on rent supplement which make it very difficult to find or keep a rented home. These policies actually made people homeless. They have also cut huge sums of money from annual housing budgets. It was only in the wake of the tragic death of Jonathan Corrie that the government seemed interested in housing, but apart from delivering 260 extra emergency accommodation places, they have done little else to tackle the crisis.

“In this time charities and housing associations have done their best to access funding to provide housing. These bodies are not perfect but they are not responsible for the crisis or its resolution. Efforts could be made to fast track funding to these bodies through the Housing Finance Agency (HFA), but the government have not acted on this by either providing support to the charities or the HFA who are also doing their best.

Local Authorities have had their funding cut repeatedly and have struggled to maintain existing housing under this government. Instead of providing supports to these councils where housing is needed, they have implemented a property tax on council houses, a levy on undeveloped council lands and gutted Part V legislation which will only encourage councils to sell off to private developers.

“The blame for the current housing crisis and the unprecedented rise in homelessness is squarely at the feet of Minister Alan Kelly and his government who have allowed rents to soar and built only a fraction of the housing needed. Even their plans up until 2018 will only deliver less than 2000 social housing units. No one is fooled by their attempts to pass the buck and they need to step up to the challenge facing them with honesty and dedication.

“It is the responsibility of government to ensure that people can access housing and that no one is forced into homelessness, the fact this government refuses to admit that is very worrying and gives little hope for progress on housing under Fine Gael and Labour.”

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