Seanad debates

Friday, 4 June 2021

9:30 am

Photo of Ivana BacikIvana Bacik (Labour)

I welcome the Minister of State to the House. As Senator Moynihan has said, we support the introduction of a constitutional right to housing. It is so important that housing, the right to shelter and a home, is seen as a basic human right in our fundamental law. We support this wholeheartedly. However, we also need to see practical measures put in place, as Senator Moynihan has said, in the shorter term to vindicate people's right to shelter and ensure people can access affordable homes.

The problem in recent years is that we have seen a complete lack of prioritisation of housing. The past five years have been wasted. We should have seen the building of housing, including affordable housing. Now, because that was not done, we have a national housing crisis and people throughout this city and the country have been priced out of renting and of buying homes.

The Labour Party will continue to work with the Government and to engage constructively to ensure better protection is put in place for tenants. I am glad that this afternoon, in our debate on the Affordable Housing Bill, we succeeded in having a Labour Party amendment accepted by the Government that will improve protection for tenants and the cost-rental model being put in place. This is hugely important because tenants need to have better security of tenure and we need to see principles on affordable rents put in place.

In Dublin Bay South, the average rent is €2,111 per month. For that to be affordable, most people would need take-home pay of €6,330 per month based on paying approximately one third of net income. That is simply not sustainable. We have allowed investment funds and institutional investors to keep market rents at an artificially elevated level and price people out of renting and out of buying homes.

For a long time, the Labour Party has been speaking about the urgent need to build more houses on public land and to build 80,000 homes over five years on public land. This was in our manifesto in last year's election. The Government has simply failed to grasp this nettle and has failed to deliver on housing to the extent it should have done. We hope we will see changes in policy. We want to see homes made available for people, and not just to see housing as a constitutional right but to see it as a reality for people throughout the country.

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