Privatising The Housing Executive Is Not The Solution To The Housing Crisis

People Before Profit Cllr Shaun Harkin said, 
 
I will be calling on the Derry and Strabane Council to reaffirm its opposition to privatisation of the Housing Executive and to see it remain a public sector body. We hope the motion can assist in launching a broad campaign to stop the dismantling of the Housing Executive and allow it to take in the lead in building thousands of new homes.  
 
We face a very well documented housing crisis in the north with 30,000 on waiting lists including nearly 5000 in Foyle – but the Housing Executive has been starved of funding to take the lead on building new houses and upgrading its existing housing stock. 
 
Instead of putting the Housing Executive’s ability to build new houses on an emergency footing consecutive Stormont Executives have rundown the Executive through disinvestment, directing funding towards unaccountable housing associations and have attempted to push it towards full privatisation. 
 
Sinn Féin Minister for Communities Carál Ní Chuilín announced she would change the classification of the Housing Executive to a mutual/co-operative model to allow it to borrow funding through accessing what’s called Financial Transaction Capital. This change might be subtle but it will put the Housing Executive in the private sector. Mutual and co-operative bodies are private sector entities with private sector rules of governance and structures. 
 
There is a desperate need to build houses as quickly as possible and the Housing Executive should do it. However, taking the Housing Executive out of the public sector will have long-term consequences for the provision of social housing, for tenants rights, for workers rights and public accountability. 
 
The Minister announced the change in classification without consulting trade unions, tenants rights groups and housing campaigners. 
 
This is a classic disaster capitalism strategy. Starve the public sector bodies of funding and then claim we have no option but to privatise. The pandemic has proved beyond a doubt the efficiency of the public sector when it comes to publicly accountable bodies such as health. Privatisation works for those who are profiting from it but for everyone else it will lead to disaster.”
 
Full motion to the Derry and Strabane full Council meeting Thursday November 26:
 
Council reaffirms its opposition to privatisation of the Housing Executive. Council
agrees the Housing Executive should remain a fully accountable public body. Council
will write to the Minister for Communities and the entire Executive making clear our
opposition to plans to restructure the Housing Executive away from a public body to
a privatised mutual/co-operative model. Council will invite NIPSA and Social Housing
experts for a presentation on the deleterious impact moving to a mutual/co-operative
model will have on the provision of social housing, tenant rights, workers rights and
accountability.  

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