Dáil debates

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Housing for All Update: Statements (Resumed)


8:00 pm

Photo of Joan CollinsJoan Collins (Dublin South Central, Independents 4 Change) | Oireachtas source

I draw the attention of the Minister of State to proposals for a renewed repair and lease scheme that Simon Communities Ireland launched last Thursday. It states that Housing for All has set out low targets for the delivery of properties under the repair and lease scheme with only 130 units envisioned for 2023. Simon Communities Ireland proposes that a target of 5,000 vacant units in 2023 and again in 2024 be set, with the potential for review in 2025. These homes would increase the social housing supply. Each local authority would have individual minimum targets. They go on to explain how it can be implemented. I ask that the Minister of State bring that to the attention of the Minister.

Housing for All is not going to resolve the housing crisis and disaster we have been in in recent years. In 1946, 26% of Irish households rented their homes from a private owner. By 1991 that figure was down to 8%. By then, most people who paid rent for their homes did so to their local authority, benefiting from reasonably well-regulated construction - not the thousands of homes that are now facing fire and building defects built during the Celtic tiger era - security of tenure, and protection from arbitrary increases. This social contract was ripped up. What Government ever sought a mandate to tear it to shreds? No Government ever did. The State, in effect Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, decided to bring back 19th century landlordism to reshape Ireland as a nation beholden to private property owners. A recent ESRI report tells us that fewer than 20% of Irish people born in the 1950s or 1960s lived in rented accommodation in their mid-30s. For those born in the 1970s this rises to just over 30%. For those born in the 1980s it is more than 40%. These figures are mirrored on the other side by a dramatic decline in homeownership among young people. More than 60% of those born in the 1960s lived in a home they or their partner owned by the age of 30, whereas the comparable figure for those born in 1970 was 39% and for those born in the early 1980s it is 32%.

The immediate symptom of the crisis is the increase in rents. They have doubled in the past decade. In Dublin, they are now 52% above the peak of the Celtic tiger era. There are now 10,805 people in emergency accommodation. This is the eighth consecutive month where the number of people accessing emergency accommodation has risen. Some 3,220 are children, which means nearly three children become homeless day. That is the reality for a lot of families. We see it in our own constituency office. Other Deputies have referred to it as well. Emergency accommodation is practically full. The hubs are full as well. We had a young mother in our office the other day with her two-year-old child who is sofa surfing. She is on HAP and cannot find accommodation. She is very distressed. Notices to quit and long-term living without a home are causing major stress. Sam McGuinness from Simon Communities Ireland stated, "The picture is ominous as we face into the cold, dark winter months ahead and no real clarity or hope in Budget 2023 to support exits out of homelessness." Again, regarding public housing on public land, we have enough rezoned land to build 100,000 public houses over the next period and that has been the case for the past four years. The Government is not resolving the crisis. It is just not.


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