The housing crisis is getting worse and Eoghan Murphy, the Fine Gael Minister for the Environment, is trying to fiddle the figures to hide its scale.
People Before Profit is introducing a new motion in the Dail to tackle the root cause of the crisis – the speculative activities of a small number of wealthy individuals.
It marks a break from the current orthodoxy of relying on ’market forces’.
The scale of the current crisis is revealed in the following figures:
- There are 144,000 applicants on housing waiting lists.
- But in 2017, just 1,058 new units were either built of acquired by local authorities.
- There are 183,312 empty homes in the country but despite talk of a ‘vacant homes strategy’ only 416 have been delivered to local authorities.
- Fine Gael boasts that a special provision – known as Part V- which compels builders to deliver social housing to local authorities. To incentive developers, they cut the legal obligation from making 20% of units available for social housing to just 10%. Yet in 2017, they delivered just 388 houses through this mechanism in 2017.
In order to start to tackle the crisis, People Before Profit is proposing three simple measures.
VACANT PROPERTY: Local councils should set up Empty Homes and Property Teams’. They should identify and engage with owners of such properties in their area. If houses or sites are not used within within six months or valid reasons given, a compulsory acquisition order should be invoked to bring them into use.
LAND SPECULATION: That all private developments have a requirement for 20% social and affordable homes. To implement this, builders must provide councils with 20% of the land at use value prices. The councils can then organise the building of social and affordable housing. This will end the current practice of exorbitant prices be charged to local authorities and of long delays in providing this type of housing.
NAMA: the mandate of NAMA need to be changed to stop the sales of development land and to make it a vehicle for building social and affordable housing.
In order to highlight these initiatives, People Before Profit is calling on activists around the country to publicly identify vacant properties and demand they be turned into homes.