Urgent action needed to end housing crisis

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
25 March 2021

Following the ESRI’s report this morning that Ireland’s housing crisis is set to come under further pressure from the pandemic, Labour housing spokesperson Senator Rebecca Moynihan called on the Minister to immediately detail a plan to catch up with and increase the urgent supply required to meet demand.

“Not a person in the country will feel any sense of hope listening to the ESRI’s updated forecast and predictions for Ireland’s housing crisis. We are living through a housing emergency in Ireland and while the pandemic has indeed added to this mess, there has always been a lack of strategic vision to solve this crisis from government. In a situation where there’s already a total lack of affordable housing, young families and those eager to climb on the property ladder need answers and a plan from the Minister now.

“The pandemic has cast a light on the fundamental inequality of our economy, born out in our housing system. On the one hand we have the professional class who continued to work, save and can realistically aspire to homeownership. On the other, our service class, those who have literally kept this country going throughout the darkest time in living memory, remain without help or hope, and ultimately are at risk of homelessness.

“Action is needed to ensure homes are within people’s reach. Government need to outline the specific targeted measures they’re going to undertake catch up with the increase in supply required and decrease house-price inflation. This must include a range of State-led measures including taxes and levies. Eliminating profiteering is now paramount.

“This week the Residential Tenancies Bill is coming before the Oireachtas and we now know that there’s not additional supply coming on stream. The housing market isn’t functioning as a result of the pandemic, yet we still have the eviction ban tied to the 5km lockdown rule for some inexplainable reason. I am once again calling on Government to take a common sense approach to this and tie the eviction ban with ongoing public health measures instead, taking into the consideration the fact that a 5km extension does not mean that people will be going back to work. The Government needs to be a realistic and acknowledge just how vulnerable renters are throughout this crisis.

“We are at breaking point as a society when it comes to the housing crisis. Our homes are our refuge at this time. How can the Government allow this housing emergency to continue? It’s clear that we need to take more fundamental action to give the housing crisis the true attention it requires. Labour wants a referendum to be held to recognise socio-economic rights in the Constitution, including the right to a means of affording housing, to be fulfilled on the basis of available resources. Everyone has the basic right to be able to afford a safe, secure home. It is a human right. It is the benchmark of a decent society. It is the absolute duty of the State to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that everyone can afford a home.

“Getting access to affordable, secure housing and quality rental accommodation should be a reality for people. Nothing about the pandemic has changed the fact that, due to successive government inaction, there is a longstanding shortage of affordable housing. Added to a delayed supply that will not match demand, the Minister needs to step up now and tell us how this situation can be addressed long-term.”

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