Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has described the governments housing policy and in particular its homelessness strategy has “an absolute failure”.
Teachta Adams said:
“The narrow vote in support of the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy in the Dáil this week was only possible because Fianna Fáil chose to abstain on the spurious claim that a successful motion of no confidence would have resulted in a general election.
“Fianna Fáil’s decision to shadow-box – to sit on their hands and support this Fine Gael government – on this important issue is disgraceful. Fianna Fáil’s decision to side with the landlords and property speculators at the expense of homeless children, families struggling to pay rent, or get on the housing ladder, is culpable in condemning tens of thousands of citizens to a perpetual and personal crisis in housing.
“The facts are that rents have reached new heights in Louth and elsewhere across this state, families are spending longer on waiting lists, and 47 children and 131 adults from Louth – will spend Christmas living in hotels and bed and breakfasts. That should not be acceptable in one of the wealthiest states in the world today.
“The Homelessness Report for October, released this week, revealed that there are over 10,500 citizens suffering homelessness. Of these almost four thousand – 3,826 – are children. The personal and developmental impact of homelessness on children was set out starkly in a report by the Royal College of Physicians last month.
“It found that children in ‘homelessness suffer higher rates of asthma, respiratory illness and infectious diseases; have poor nutrition and more obesity; less access to developmental opportunities, play, recreation and social activities; poorer emotional and mental health, and increased behavioural difficulties; less access to preventive health care and lower rates of childhood immunisation’.
“The government has failed by any measure to provide a housing strategy to combat the housing and homelessness crisis. It has proven itself incapable of providing public and affordable housing or to tackle the massive rent hikes imposed by greedy landlords.
“Its Rebuilding Ireland programme was launched in July 2016. Three and a half years later, homelessness is up by 67% and child homelessness has increased by a shocking 81%.
“Social housing output remains glacial. Just over 7,000 real social homes were added to the stock in 2018. In the same year, more than twice that number of families joined a waiting list held by Councils which numbers over 70,000.
“What is clearly needed is a radical plan of home building both in respect of council and affordable homes to buy and rent. Sinn Féin is proposing the biggest public house building programme that this state has ever hand. In the short term, we would reduce rents by €1,500 per year using a rent freeze and tax credit for renters.
“Sinn Féin would also introduce a redress scheme for homeowners living in defective properties built during the celtic tiger days and we would increase investment in local authority housing for retrofitting to ensure sustainability of our housing stock.
“This is the kind of focussed action needed. Our common sense proposals will help people.”