Govt must treat housing as the crisis that it is
- Vacant home tax vital
- Affordability issues widespread in market
- Revised HAP scheme devoid of market context
Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan said every person living in homelessness represents the wasted years of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to tackle the housing crisis.
Calling on Government to speed up the use of vacant and derelict homes, as well as implement a suite of measures to ease pressures on renters, Senator Moynihan said Government must act with urgency.
Senator Moynihan said:
“There are 10,492 people, including 3,071 children, without a place that they can call home living in Ireland today. It’s disgraceful and represents a total systems failure and the wasted years of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in power. There can be real solutions here for those who need a home. But there is no sense of urgency in the Government’s response.
“We know that over 57,000 properties are vacant throughout the country. If this Government had any get up and go in it, they would have converted these properties into new homes for those living in homelessness. We know that supply is a key issue, why not just tap into what is already available? It is deeply depressing for all of us to walk around our communities and see vacant and derelict properties when we know that this housing crisis is touching almost every family in the country.
“Affordability remains a key issue for people in the housing market. For example, the Minister has once again pat himself on the back for the changes made to the HAP scheme, when analysis carried out by my office has indicated that even with the proposed increases, there simply are not enough homes available for those who need them. The HAP system has collapsed, and moving from direct build social housing to HAP has been a disaster for those at the bottom of the housing market, driving these people into homelessness.
“Long-term, we need much more social housing built at scale, but short-term we need to revise the basic HAP limits, this time with an actual reference for what the current market rate is, as they are clearly not reflecting the outrageous rents charged. In particular, single people are really struggling to find accommodation, which is being reflected in June’s homeless figures.
“No child should live at risk of homelessness. With 1,385 families recorded as homeless in June’s figures, I am reiterating my call to Government to recognise the needs of children within the family unit and reconsider Labour’s Homeless Families Bill which recognises need for specific protection for children as well as for their mothers. Homeless charities consistently tell us that it is important that the law is strengthened to support families in crisis situations.
“Of course, there are a whole suite of other measures available to Government – an eviction ban to actually stop people entering homelessness from the private market, tighter grounds for evictions in the first place or a temporary rent freeze. Opposition has consistently worked with Government to try and make progress on the crisis of our generation. Yet, time and time again we see narrow political self-interest trump fair play and sound policy.”