Like education and healthcare, People Before Profit regard a family home as a fundamental human right. To vindicate this right, we would hold a referendum to insert a ‘right to housing’ into the constitution.
Beyond this, we would call a national housing emergency, create a national construction company and use publicly zoned land to build and acquire one hundred thousand public and affordable houses.
According to the Residential Land Availability Survey published by the Department of Finance in 2015, there was zoned land for 414,712 residential properties across the country – with 116,705 in Dublin.10 Of this just over 100,000 units could be built on land owned by local authorities and the National Assets Management Agency. Instead of selling this land to the private sector at knock down prices, we would build on it, ensuring a proper social mix by scrapping the threshold for getting a local authority house. If necessary we would also use the state to engage in compulsory purchase on the rest of this zoned land in much the same way as the Irish Development Agency does for big business.
Building public and affordable housing on public land would end the homelessness crisis and clear the social housing waiting lists within five years. But it would also create a number of positive spill-over effects for other people in the housing market.
Increasing supply in a significant way, would relieve the cost of private rent and put pressure on the banks to reduce their mortgage rates. It would also reduce the cost of buying, further reducing the borrowing costs of families trying to get into the property market.
A major housebuilding program could also reduce the stigma associated with council housing by providing it to people on every level of income.
Housing Activity in the Dáil
In October 2018 we put forward a motion to declare a housing emergency, end evictions into homelessness and increase spending on public and affordable housing. The motion passed by 83 votes to 42, but the government have refused to implement it.