In the past decade provision of social housing has effectively been privatised, meaning councils are gifting large publicly owned sites to private developers in return for a few hundred completed houses being given back as ‘social housing’; the remainder being sold at huge profits. I have highlighted this scandal on Dublin City Council and I have also been vocal in opposing the Department of Environment proposals to the re-introduce ‘shoebox’ apartments at the behest of private developers.
In the mid-1970s social housing made up one third of all homes built, now it is less than 5%, despite government pre-election promises of improvement. The ‘Public Private Partnership’ and ‘free market’ policy has clearly NOT provided homes for those who need them. In the first 9 months of 2015 only 29 local authority houses were built in the WHOLE COUNTRY.
The Councils and the State owns plenty of building land, we have large numbers of unemployed construction workers and international interest rates are at the lowest ever. We need at least 20,000 houses per year – not the promised 20,000 by 2020. 90,000 families are now on Council Housing lists, some for up to ten years. Up to 1,700 children are homeless. We urgently need a public building programme now.
At present international vulture funds are buying up apartment and housing developments throughout the country, with a view to renting them out through large property companies. NAMA is selling off these developments in bulk, not as individual homes accessible to the average family.
An immediate ‘use it or lose it’ tax on building land is required to prevent developers sitting on land with planning permission in hope of higher profits.
Rents have risen 35% since 2011, the shambolic Rent Allowance system is inadequate for tenants and merely a very expensive subsidy from taxpayers to private landlords. Rent controls linked to the Consumer Price Index and fixed longer leases are required urgently. Derelict and former commercial premises in cities and suburbs should be developed for apartment units at reasonable rents.
300,000+ homes are in negative equity and almost 100,000 in mortgage arrears. As we bailed out the banks by 9 billion, they must be compelled to either mark down or ‘park’ some of a mortgage, allowing families to remain in their homes on reduced repayments until their finances improve.
- In 2012 EIGHT families a month became homeless
- In 2014 FORTY families a month became homeless
- In early 2015 65-75 families a month became homeless