Nearly 3,000 children are homeless in Ireland. Over one hundred classrooms could be filled with children who have no permanent place to study or play.
It is a shocking scandal – but only part of Ireland’s worst ever housing crisis.
People Before Profit members have joined with others in placing posters of real homeless children around town centres.
The Fine Gael dominated government, however, want to turn a blind eye.
They have refused to declare a housing emergency, which would allow them to circumvent EU rules and embark on a major council house building programme.
They will not outlaw evictions for those in economic distress while the current crisis lasts.
Many people become homeless because they are evicted from rented accommodation. But this has increased precisely because of the new rules brought in by the last Fine Gael Environment Minister, Simon Coveney.
Instead of introducing proper rent controls, he brought in a scheme of ‘rent pressure zones’. This limits rental increases of a maximum of 4 percent annually.
Yet landlords responded by evicting people and setting a new rents. They only have to show evidence that three other landlords in their area have similar rents and a new rent becomes legitimate. After that they can cash in on a 4% hike each year – which is far higher than any wage increase their tenant might get.
Threshold, the housing NGO, has called for a tiny reform – that landlords be required to publish rents in a publically accessible register. This would help to stop some evictions designed to hike up rent.
What was Fine Gael’s response? Totally opposed. They claimed it would be wrong to put data on landlords in the public domain.
Yet data on sales of all houses sales is already available via the Residential Property Price Register. So why not a register of rents?
The reality is that Fine Gael wants to protect the wealthiest elements of Irish society – even if it means that homelessness increases.
We need proper rent controls based on forcing a reduction of rents to 2010 levels and linking them then to official inflation figures
This needs to be married to a strategy of social housing builds.