Labour demand emergency housing measures starting with eviction ban extension
- Extend eviction ban until December 2023
- Introduction of monthly reporting on tenant-in-situ scheme locally
- Commence emergency public house building programme
- Rapid CPO of vacant and derelict homes
- Increase national housing targets to 50,000
Tomorrow (Thursday, 9th February), The Labour Party will demand Government action on the worsening housing disaster.
In recognition of the fact that not enough homes are being built, too many vacant and derelict homes remain unused and with the overreliance on the private sector clearly failing, Labour will call for a suite of emergency measures to protect people over the coming months.
Labour leader and housing spokesperson Ivana Bacik said Housing for All is failing fast – failing to meet its own targets or not setting targets at all.
Deputy Bacik said that a generation of young people are now locked out of home ownership or any opportunity to have secure and affordable tenancies.
Deputy Bacik said:
“The housing crisis is a direct result of years of inaction by Fine Gael propped up by Fianna Fáil. Week in week out, this Government attempts to spin a narrative about taking action, but the reality is these reheated political messages are just that, there is no substance, no targets, no delivery.
“Unpublished research by the Housing Commission provided to the Minister for Housing in November suggests that the baseline housing requirement each year until 2050 ranges from 42,000 to 62,000 homes, yet our targets are way out of kilter with that need.
“We are demanding the introduction of emergency measures that would offer people hope of home ownership and affordable rental homes. Radical and ambitious targets are needed. We will be pressing for an increase in national housing targets to 50,000 annually.
“The number of people entering homelessness continues to rise, reaching a record of 11,632 people in December, 3,442 of whom were children. It’s scandalous.
“We are calling on Government to endorse and fast-track Labour’s Housing (Homeless Families) Bill, which would ensure local authorities prioritise the needs of children when it comes to housing, and end the scourge of family homelessness. We are currently failing our most vulnerable children.
“Unfortunately we know that many people who enter homelessness are coming directly from the private rental market. As such, we are demanding an extension of the eviction ban until the end of 2023.
“During the pandemic, we saw the impact that an eviction ban can have on preventing people entering homelessness. The scale of the housing crisis is such that government has no option but to extend the temporary eviction ban. While the extension is in place, government must plan appropriately for its lifting at the end of the year, something they failed to do during the winter months.
“Ultimately, it is clear, and all experts tell us, that the State must take on a more direct role in the system, as the private market has vastly different objectives on housing. Overreliance on the private sector is a strategy that’s failing fast.
“Labour’s motion will call for an emergency public house building programme using the full resources of the State, with monthly reporting on the number of housing commencements by local authorities, approved housing bodies and the Land Development Agency.
“The practice of announcing policy without targets must end. The reheated Vacant Homes Action Plan 2023-2026 announced by Government last week failed to set targets for the number of empty and derelict homes to be brought back into use in 2023, nor does it address CPO targets for vacant and derelict homes for each local authority. Where is the sense of urgency from government?
“We are deeply conscious of the challenges faced in achieving ambitious targets due to a huge lack of availability of construction workers. As such, Labour is demanding the removal of the exemption of apprentices from minimum wage legislation. We need to encourage people into the crafts and trades that build homes and help keep a roof over people’s heads.
“Minister O’Brien has dragged his heels on the introduction of every piece of progressive policy since taking office. The majority of positive changes have come about following campaigning by the Labour Party and other opposition parties – from the eviction ban, to the revision of social housing income limits, to restricting AirBnB lettings, to the tenant in situ scheme. This Government is not vindicating the right to a home for far too many people and families.”