April 26, 2022
Government must revise housing targets in light of Ukrainian refugee crisis – Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has expressed disappointment that Minister Darragh O’Brien is not revising upwards his social and affordable housing targets.

Speaking after a briefing with Departmental officials and the Housing committee on the Minister’s plans to accommodate refugees from the Ukraine, Teachta Ó Broin said:

“The government’s housing plan has been overtaken by events and the Minister needs to urgently revise upwards its social and affordable housing targets.

“It is clear that the public housing targets in the government’s plan that was launched last September weren’t adequate and the plan isn’t working.

“Homelessness is on the rise again, private rental sector supply is getting smaller, people leaving direct provision cannot find anywhere to rent, Travellers are still living in appalling conditions, and people with disabilities cannot secure appropriate accommodation.

“It was clear from the briefing with Departmental officials today that the Minister for Housing Darragh O’ Brien has been misleading the media and the public about his plans to accommodate Ukrainian refugees.

“The refurbishment of the limited number of social housing voids and acquisitions will not be for Ukrainian refugees. None of these homes will be extra units and will not deliver homes above and beyond the existing meagre targets in the government’s housing plan.

“Nor will any homes that may enter the private rented sector due to reforms to the Fair Deal scheme – reforms that were already in train before the war in the Ukraine.

“The Department of Housing’s role is restricted to assisting the Department of Children in acquiring large multi-unit development and modular fast track homes.

“This is not good enough. The Irish Refugee Council has put forward workable proposals that the government have all but ignored.

“Vacant holiday homes in suitable locations must be targeted. A license agreement can be put in place to give security to both the refugees and homeowners and a modest payment could be made.

“This could prove to be both quicker and cheaper than the time it would take to refurb other vacant buildings.

“However, these are only short to medium term solutions. The Minister must acknowledge that his housing plan is no longer fit for purpose and has been overtaken by events.

“The Minister needs to scrap his plan and revise his targets. We are going to need significantly more social and affordable homes than his government has provided for.

“He cannot kick this can down the road any longer and he must also stop bluffing and blustering to the media.

“There are solutions available. The Minister needs to listen and come up with a new plan that meets the housing needs of all those who need accommodation so that no one is left behind.”

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