Next week, during Private Members Time, People Before Profit will bring a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Housing to the Dáil (see below).
The motion notes the failure of the government to deliver on the worsening housing and homelessness crisis which is tearing apart the social fabric of Irish society and leading to the scapegoating of refugees and International Protection applicants.
The motion notes a litany of failure by this government on housing targets and homeless figures, as well as pointing to the government’s failed temporary eviction ban where tenants, such as those in Lower Rathmines Road, Tathony House and St Helen’s Court are facing eviction once the ban is lifted.
Speaking on the motion of no confidence in the Housing Minister, TD Bríd Smith said: “We are moving this motion of no confidence in the Minister and his government, not for personal reasons, but based on the fact that the housing crisis continues to deteriorate. The housing crisis has long been regarded as an emergency, but now we can see that it is an absolute catastrophe. Simply put, our housing system is broken thanks to successive failures of government policy.
“The crisis has gotten so bad that the number of people in emergency accommodation reached 11,397, the highest ever recorded. 3,480 of those in emergency accommodation in October were children.
“There is a massive recruitment and retention crisis in our public services where healthcare workers, emergency services workers, public transport workers, teachers and many others simply cannot afford rents. Many of these workers are choosing to emigrate. A recent Bank and Payments Federation Ireland report shows rent in Ireland has increased by an average of 82% since 2010, four and a half times the EU average of 18%.
“On top of this already shocking crisis it has recently been revealed that there were just 647 new homes were built by local authorities in the first half of this year, and 11 local authorities built no houses at all. We keep hearing from the government that the answer is supply, but we simply do not see that supply materialising. The government are failing to address this crisis because they are tied to a privatised model of housing delivery on a for profit basis. What we need is a housing model that delivers housing from the state to meet the needs of people.
“The housing and homelessness crisis is now leading to a serious increase in the scapegoating of migrants and refugees.
“The housing crisis is a chronic indictment of the government, the Housing Minister, and successive Housing Ministers from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. It is for these reasons that we have decided to table a no confidence motion in the Minister and his government. We need a fundamental change of direction in housing policy. For this to happen, instead of a change of Taoiseach on December 17th we need a change of government.”
That Dáil Éireann:
notes that the Minister for Housing has:
- Failed to deliver on housing, and the worsening housing and homelessness crisis is tearing apart the social fabric of Irish society and leading to the scapegoating of refugees and International Protection applicants.
- Failed to break with successive governments’ developer-led, market-based provision of housing, which has inevitably deepened the housing crisis even further.
- Failed to halt the rise in homelessness, so the latest data for October shows the number of people in emergency accommodation reached 11,397, the highest ever recorded, an increase of 4% in just one month and an increase of 29% in the last 12 months, and 3,480 of those in emergency accommodation in October were children.
- Failed to prevent many of these families, individuals, and particularly children from facing their second, third, fourth Christmas in emergency accommodation.
- Failed to give a clear and unequivocal commitment to preventing no fault evictions into homelessness.
- Failed to clearly instruct Local Authorities that the purchase of homes where tenants are threatened with no fault evictions on grounds of sale is an absolute imperative, and should extend to all tenants on low and middle incomes, whether in receipt of housing supports or not, but where their income makes current rents and house prices unaffordable.
- Failed to progress the Right to Housing legislation.
- Failed to enact meaningful rent controls or rent reductions.
Further notes that
- A recent Bank and Payments Federation Ireland report shows rent in Ireland has increased by an average of 82% since 2010, four and a half times the EU average of 18%.
- Just 647 new homes were built by local authorities in the first half of this year, and 11 local authorities built no houses at all.
- Of the 4,100 affordable and cost rental homes promised for 2022, only 325 affordable and 234 cost rental homes have been delivered to end Q2 2022.
- Recent data shows that home building activity has started to reduce sharply –
- According to Goodbody’s Housing Chartbook monitor, housing construction in October was down 31% year on year, and the annual total for housing commencements to October is 26,608, down from approximately 35,000 earlier this year.
- Recent CSO data indicates that house-building activity fell by 16.2 per cent between July and September this year.
- According to the Parliamentary Budget Office, the most accurate estimate for households with a housing need may be close to 122,000 when those on the waiting list and in receipt of Housing Assistance Payment, Rental Accommodation Scheme and other housing support payments are included.
- An Irish Refugee Council report, ‘Accommodation Crisis 2022: Response and Recommendations’ stated that the Irish protection system is in crisis; that the International Protection Accommodation Service has turned away newly arrived international protection applicants because of a lack of accommodation, and said this represented a most serious breakdown in Ireland’s reception system. This lack of emergency accommodation for refugees is a direct result of the failure of the Minister for Housing to deal with the housing crisis.
- Over 100 International Protection refugees are accommodated in tents, at the time of writing, in sub-zero temperatures.
- A new report, The Right Home: the Housing Needs of People with Disabilities, published by the Disability Federation of Ireland and the Citizens’ Information Board, has found that many disabled people find it difficult to find appropriate housing and supports for independent living; people with disabilities and people with mental health difficulties feature disproportionately among the homeless population; and people with disabilities can spend up to 10 years on the social housing waiting list.
- Schools and hospitals are reporting serious recruitment and retention difficulties because teachers, nurses and midwives cannot afford housing in Dublin and other urban areas, and this is causing serious problems for education and the health service.
- Annual State spending on rent subsidies to private landlords, such as housing assistance payment and the rent assistance supplement, and other private house leasing measures now exceeds €1bn, which will add no permanent housing to the state’s housing stock
- Despite the desperate need for affordable housing, the Minister has a €700 million underspend on the housing budget.
- Despite the severity of the housing crisis, the Minister has failed to act to provide housing from an estimated 166,752 vacant homes, of which 48,387 have been vacant for at least six years; over 22,000 derelict sites; and sites with full planning permission for 80,000 homes that are being hoarded by developers to keep house prices high.
- The Minister’s temporary eviction ban is seriously inadequate and will leave many tenants unprotected from eviction, including tenants at places such as Tathony House in Dublin 8, a multi-unit apartment complex in Rathmines, and St. Helen’s Court in Dún Laoghaire, who face imminent mass eviction, and will inevitably be followed by large numbers of evictions when the ban ends on 31 March 2023.
- Multiple landlords have exploited loopholes in the Tyrrelstown Amendment to carry out mass evictions, and the Minister failed to progress legislation to close the loopholes.
Also acknowledges that
- On 13th October, thousands of students walked out of colleges across the country to protest against the lack of affordable accommodation and the negative effect it is having on their education.
- Up to 20,000 people demonstrated on the streets of Dublin on 26th November at the Raise the Roof Rally for Housing, and demanded an end to homelessness; secure, affordable homes for all, and for the building of high quality public houses on public land
- The government’s catastrophic failure on housing is being exploited by the far right to whip-up racist and anti-refugee sentiment
resolves that it has no confidence in the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, that his housing policies are creating a catastrophic failure that is tearing apart the social fabric of Irish society, and calls for the Minister to be removed from Office.