Tag Archives: Housing crisis


This morning.

Government Buildings.

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD launching a mobile billboard on the housing crisis

Mr Ó Broin said:

“Last year, when we tabled our motion of no confidence in [Housing] Minister Eoghan Murphy, we made it clear that both he and the Governments failing housing plan [Rebuilding ireland] had to go if there was to be any chance of tackling the housing crisis.

It now appears that the Taoiseach is concerned than his colleagues’ failures are reflecting badly on him. There are ever growing murmurings from Fine Gael backbenchers and cabinet sources that the Taoiseach’s relationship with Minister Murphy has soured and that the Minister for Housing is set to be moved.

Replacing Eoghan Murphy, but leaving Rebuilding Ireland in place, will change nothing. Rebuilding Ireland is as much Leo Varadkar’s housing plan as it is Minister Murphy’s. Its failures are as much, if not more so, the Taoiseach’s failings as that of his cabinet colleague.”

Varadkar’s Housing Plan has to go – Ó Broin (Sinn Féin)

Leah Farrell/RollingNews


From top: The National Housing Demonstration in Dublin city centre last December; Dr Rory Hearne.

In an interview on RTE’ Radio 1’s ‘Drivetime’ yesterday, I outlined that it is really important that any discussion of housing taking place at the moment starts by stating that that there is nothing normal about our homelessness crisis.

There is nothing acceptable about it and nothing normal about an increase in child homelessness from 500 children in 2014 to almost 4000 in 2018 – a 600% increase in just four years.

There is nothing normal or acceptable about a generation of people being locked out of affordable housing – contrary to what some people have been saying.

The discussion of developers’ incentives to build such as reducing VAT has to be put in context of a wider discussion about our housing crisis – because this isn’t something that can just be tinkered around with.

The government has already made a number of incentives in relation to house building. One of the very significant incentives was done in 2015 when they reduced the obligation in private housing developments to provide Part V social housing from 20% down to 10% – similarly there were changes were made to apartment standards.

The problem is if you look at it from a policy perspective and how housing systems operate you can give all the incentives in the world but that doesn’t mean that the private sector will build or not. There are a number of issues determining that such as access to finance, access to land and profitability.

Dublin City Council are doing a number of initiatives such as the cost rental housing proposal that offer a solution. Because the problem is we got into the crash in 2007 and 2008 because developers were over incentivised – there was too much credit flowing in and pushed up prices.

We had huge supply but we still had no affordability.

At the core of that problem is that we don’t do what countries that provide successful affordable housing systems like Denmark and Austria do – where the state and not-for-profit housing providers (housing associations and cooperatives) provide a very significant proportion of the supply of housing.

Yet in the first three quarters of last year only 800 local authority social housing units were built by local authorities across the country and only 350 were built in the wider Dublin area.

We need a new form of supply of affordable housing, done by the state and guaranteed. That also guarantees a supply of work for builders and construction workers as well.

The state needs to see that the private approach of incentivisation of the private market hasn’t worked and it won’t work to provide affordable housing .

The cost rental and affordable rental model is a way that the state should be doing it – the way that can guarantee provision and it should be providing 20,000 affordable units per year.

Even Tom Parlon, head of the Construction Industry Federation agrees as he outlined in the discussion on ‘Drivetime’:

Philip Boucher Hayes [host]: “You don’t seem to be in any disagreement with Rory – that getting the state to step in to do the building and you guys tender to do the work?”

Tom Parlon: “Yes, it is a solution.”

There may be a chink of light emerging in this crisis. But we have a long way to go!

Dr Rory Hearne is a policy analyst, academic, social justice campaigner. He writes here in a personal capacity. Follow Rory on Twitter: @roryhearne

Listen back to interview here

Rollingnews

From top: Baggott Street Bridge, Dublin 2 on Monday evening; Odessa Club and restaurant on Exchequer Street Dublin yesterday morning.

Meanwhile…

Yesterday; ‘It Doesn’t Seem Like Christmas This Year’

Rollingnews

The GPO, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1 this morning

Anon writes:

If you work in Dublin city centre, and perhaps not even if you do, you walk past them many times a day.

They lie or sit on the street, in a way that travellers to Egypt, or Lisbon, or Turkey, may be familiar with. But it is not Egypt, or Lisbon, or Turkey, and the weather is wet, and cold, and the Dublin wind is vicious.

Their faces are red and mottled and their heads down, conserving their energy for the bigger fight of the night.

They lie sideways to shield themselves from the wind, in front of windows full of mannequins decked out in sequins and rhinestones, against the doors of the city’s institutes of higher education, or on the steps of museums and the GPO.

Some have lost work, others families, by death or divorce. In childhood, or after it, many, if not all have suffered pain during their lives, pain maybe even greater than that which they are suffering now.

Their existence challenges the comfortable universe which we are still entreated to believe exists in this country but which, inside, we know does not, and maybe never did.

To hide our pain and fear, we pretend that they do not exist, and, where this pretense is unavoidable, salve our wounds by blaming them for their misfortune.

When asking ourselves – what has brought them to this pass, we focus on the self-medication they have used to kill the pain, rather than the pain itself, and its causes deep in our society; we focus on their ill-judged disarrangement of their lives, rather than on the people responsible for this disarrangement; not them, but the people who are running this country have created a situation where citizens are being forced out of their homes by men with dogs employed by foreign firms, like something out of the Land League, the Black and Tans.

We pay heavy taxes to what we believe is an independent State to have this State run properly, to have homes for our people, hospitals for our sick, schools or our children, not just so that we and our families can have a safety net if things go wrong, but also so that we can live in a society in which people feel, safe, respected, cared for and able to get on with the wonderful business of living.

We live in a city where, despite all possible reasons to the contrary there are still people uncared for and neglected in this way, even if we ourselves never need this safety net, we are damaged and diminished in an irretrievable way by their pain, and our ignoring of it. Our perception is subtly shifted, places we loved seem tawdry, people we admired look hollow, our joy in life is taken away.

It doesn’t seem like Christmas this year.

And rather than asking: why is it this way, why do I seem so distressed when I have a job, a warm home, when I’m the lucky one, remember that no person is an island, that to ignore the suffering of others is ultimately to take away one’s joy in life, that to deny pain and fail to act out of fear, or to cling to a non-existent dream that all is alright (as RTE do) is to be a serf, and worse still to know it.

We live in a democracy. We are told we have the power. We need to start believing it, and, further, that a democracy is about, not just caring for others, but also for oneself. Because each other person’s pain affects us more than we know.

Rollingnews


‘Take Back The City’ protestors occupy the offices of Airbnb on Hanover Quay, Dublin last October

Via John Harris in The Guardian:

I stay in a flat just to the north of Dublin’s city centre, booked via Airbnb…

As if to prove that I am not the only person there paying for a short let, there is a gaggle of young men in the flat above me, who – despite the fact that it is Monday – repeatedly sing a dire and apparently drunken version of Robbie Williams’s Angels between midnight and 1am.

But the buggies and tricycles on each landing suggest that most of my temporary neighbours are families.

I pay £95 for a single night’s stay (including a £43 “cleaning fee”), which highlights why whoever owns it has decided to rent it out in this way.

The same move has been made by scores of other landlords: in August 2018, there were reckoned to be 3,165 entire properties listed on Airbnb in Dublin, compared with only 1,329 available for long-term rent.

This is one vivid element of a housing crisis that combines the most contorted aspects of the private market with a rising need that continues to go unanswered.

About 10,000 people in Ireland are reckoned to be homeless. The number of families who have nowhere to live has increased by more than 20% since 2017.

These are national problems, but they are inevitably concentrated in Ireland’s capital, home to more than 10% of the country’s population.

In the four months between June and September, 415 Dublin families – including 893 children – became newly homeless, adding to a total across the city of about 1,400. Increasing numbers are being forced to live in hotels.

Meanwhile, residential neighbourhoods echo to the clack-clack-clack of suitcase wheels. The city is smattered with key boxes for Airbnb apartments.

A stock line among activists demanding action from the government gets to the heart of all this: in 21st-century Dublin, they say, homeless families stay in hotels, and tourists stay in houses.

Last week, a survey titled the Expat City Ranking found that among people who live and work abroad, Dublin came out as the world’s worst capital for affordable accommodation.

Since the summer, there have been repeated protests in the city, focused most spectacularly on occupations of vacant buildings.

Tomorrow [Saturday] a protest organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition is expected to attract thousands of people to the middle of Dublin, set on making the case for housing as a basic human right and venting their anger and fear about a simple enough fact: that Ireland’s capital is fast becoming an impossible place to live and thousands of lives are being ruined as a result.

30,000 empty homes and nowhere to live: inside Dublin’s housing crisis (John Harris, Guardian)

Yesterday: Rory Hearne: Why Your Country Needs You To Join The Housing Protest

 

From top: Members of different unions and homeless organistations in front of a derelict building in the City Center of Dublin calling people to join a housing protest protest on Saturday; Dr Rory Hearne

Doing anything Saturday? Here’s a few reasons that might encourage you to join the housing protest march in Dublin City Centre.

You would think there wasn’t a housing crisis or a housing emergency if you you listened to the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s keynote speech to Fine Gael’s Ard Fheis last weekend. He spent most of the speech talking about his desire to reduce taxes and remove billions from state coffers, as a result.

It is utter madness – to be reducing, via tax cuts, the public finances that are needed for investing in building affordable housing, providing proper public health, affordable quality childcare, public transport etc.

The Taoiseach then stated that “fairness drives our approach to the country’s finances” and that “biggest social housing programme in decades is now underway” and that “Fine Gael is the party of home ownership”.

I’m not sure who he is talking about being fair to. His party’s policies in government have been fairest and most beneficial to property investors, vulture funds and landlords and have been deeply unfair to those renting in the private rental sector, aspirant home owners, the homeless, those in mortgage arrears and those on social housing waiting lists.

Rents have been allowed to rise to horrendously unaffordable levels and global investors encouraged to come in via low tax schemes and buy up new rental housing and raise market rents.

And in terms of Fine Gael being the party of home ownership – that is utterly delusional.

They are the party of property ownership –for the few – for high income households who can afford to buy and investors and landlords. But for most people looking to buy a home this government has done very little – they have not built one affordable house in their eight years of government.

But in that statement of the Taoiseach – “Fine Gael is the party of home ownership”, at least he is honest about their anti-social housing ideological bias. This helps explains their utter failure to build social housing on any scale over their decade in power.

We need a political party in government that is a party that prioritises and stands for ‘the right to a home for all’ – that aspires and acts to ensure everyone has an affordable secure home – be that rented or owned.

In regard to his claim of the government undertaking a “major social house building programme” that is more spin and mis-truths.

In their main housing plan, Rebuilding Ireland, 85% of the total new social housing is to be provided from the private rental sector through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP, which is an insecure form of housing as tenants can be evicted by landlords, and it is much more expensive for the state than building directly) and Part V (bought off private developers) or leased (long term rented) off the private market.

Just 15% is new build social housing by local authorities and housing associations. We can see this continues this year.

The figures in the table below that I have put together and analysed from the Department of Housing for the first 6 months of this year show that just 7% (800) of the total new social housing units (12,358) provided are actually new build (just 487 built by local authorities).

A staggering 90% of all new social housing came from the private market with 76% (9,444) of all new social housing coming from the private rented sector via HAP or RAS.

This approach is more expensive and adds to the problem of a lack of affordable supply and fails to do the key thing that government can do to address the housing crisis – build new public housing on a major level.

Their Rebuilding Ireland policy approach involves the outsourcing and privatisation of social housing and is a key reason we are in this crisis.

Rather than the State guaranteeing the supply of new social and affordable housing by funding sufficiently and overseeing the building of housing via local authorities, co-operatives and housing associations, it is turning to the private market.

This is despite the private market’s repeated failure to deliver social and affordable housing, as well its failure to provide value for money.

The only conclusion one can draw is that the Government, has an ideological aversion to the State actually building social and affordable housing on any serious scale but it is solely focused on trying to reboot the property market. (I explained this in my presentation to the Oireachtas Joint committee on Housing and Planning and Local Government on November 14th – see link here)

Varadkar is right though when he said that “the housing crisis was many years and perhaps decades in the making”. It is decades of neoliberal pro-market and speculative investor policies that have lead us into this crisis.

But he and the government are claiming that their policies and plans (which continue the failed neoliberal and pro-speculative market approach) will work – they just need more time.

As Varadkar says

“it was never going to be easy to turn things around but bit by bit, just as we did when it came to unemployment and the economy, we will”.

But the problem is the longer we leave Leo and his government to implement the Rebuilding Ireland policy (which has a failed private market oriented approach as I outlined above) then this housing crisis will continue to worsen.

Giving this government more time to continue implementing its housing policy will mean rents rising to even further unaffordable levels, more homelessness, and more and more people pushed into generation rent.

We have to see that our housing system has fundamentally changed. We now have a fifth of households in the private rental sector. We have a generation who are going to be in the insecure and unaffordable private rented sector.

What we need to do is to change utterly how we see social housing. We need to re-imagine social housing and to change it to this idea of public affordable housing that is available, as in Denmark and Austria, to anybody on any income.

We need to see that it is not about tinkering around the edges. We need in Ireland to move to providing a third of housing coming from the non-market, not-for-profit sector to some form of social or public affordable housing, housing associations or co-operatives.

Currently it is only 10%. The reality is that the private sector will not build affordable housing. That is the problem we have had over the past 30 years.

However, government have shown they are ideologically captured by their belief in the private market approach to housing. And this is the principal reason why we need a major protest movement.

The government have shown they are not willing to change policy to what is needed and they are ignoring the many alternatives we have outlined (from the public affordable housing model I have outlined to the Cooperative Housing like O Cualann, or the Fair Rent cost rental model outlined by Housing Action Now, NERI, NESC, the ICTU housing charter, and many others).

There is a need, therefore, for the Irish people to stand up and pressure the government to change policy.

The new housing movement has grown substantially in the last two years – from occupations such as Apollo House, the My Name Is protests, to the national Homeless and Housing Coalition march last April to Take Back the City and the large Raise the Roof demonstration in October.

Combined with the homeless NGOs, charities and many grassroots groups who continue to provide vital support to those affected by the crisis on the streets and in communities, there is a substantial civil society pressure for change.

And the range of groups supporting the housing protests is widening all the time. For example, Saturday’s protest is organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition and is supported by many large trade unions, NGOs like Threshold, Focus Ireland, Inner City Helping Homeless and Simon, the children’s charity Barnardos, the Left opposition parties, academics, and the Union of Students in Ireland, the Dublin Tenants Association, Irish Traveller Movement and many more.

This is one of the main strengths of this movement – the way in which so many diverse organisations and civil society groups and activists are working together – putting aside differences – for the broader goal of creating a massive housing movement that can achieve the right to a home for all.

The National Homeless and Housing Coalition explains why the protest is being organised:

“We will be on the streets on December 1st to tell the government that we will not be ignored – after October 3rd we got a landlords budget and an abject failure to act on the Dail motion that called for radical action on the crisis, including an accelerated programme of public housing on public land, an additional 1bn euro funding in the budget for housing, an end to evictions from the private sector motivated by profit making, a reduction in rents and to hold a referendum to enshrine the right to a home into the constitution.”

There is a real opportunity in the coming years, if we learn from this crisis, to achieve a right to housing for all in Ireland. There is a real opportunity to ensure everyone has access to affordable and secure housing in well planned and designed communities.

The majority of people see the housing system is failing them, their children, their neighbours, the 3800 children homeless and their families, and the country at large. And they are asking what is the solution? Is the crisis solvable?

And it is answering these questions and convincing the majority that is the key challenge for those of us who advocate a shift to a housing system to one that guarantees and ensures the right to housing for all. We have to convince and mobilise the public behind the policies that can achieve this. That is our challenge.

To succeed we need to make housing the major issue in next year’s local elections and the next general election – and highlight the governments abject failures in policy, unwillingness to change and the alternative policies that need to be implemented.

To succeed we need to build a mass social movement – to educate and organise people throughout society – to engender a cross society sense of solidarity – that this affects us all and together we can change it.

We need to educate people about the alternatives and show that the crisis is solvable. If we mobilise in major numbers like the water movement, Repeal, and the historic Civil Rights Movement, we can have a real impact.

The truth is that when people stand up together and campaign and protest they do have a power to force governments to change direction.

Protest can change policy. In fact a cross society movement standing up is our main hope in solving this crisis.

That is why it is so important that you get out and join the protests on Saturday – the bigger this movement becomes the more pressure the government will feel and the sooner we can force them to change the failing approach.

But we also have to go beyond protest – and create a movement that reaches into every sinew of society. We need to start the conversations amongst each other about how the housing crisis affects us in so many different ways – to break the stigma and silencing – just like Repeal.

And show that the crisis is not our individual faults but results from a deeply flawed approach to housing that treats it as an investment commodity and wealth accumulating asset and not as a human right, guaranteeing a home for all.

We also need to support the alternative proposals for building affordable housing – work with local authorities, co-operatives and housing associations to organise the building of affordable housing and communities.

Why not set up housing cooperatives amongst trade unions, NGOs, and activists as well? This housing movement can grow to become the biggest and most impactful social movement in modern Irish history.

It will need to be to achieve an affordable secure home for all.

Dr Rory Hearne is a policy analyst, academic, social justice campaigner. He writes here in a personal capacity. Follow Rory on Twitter: @roryhearne

Rollingnews

‘sup?

This afternoon.

Members of trade unions and homeless organistations, including Fr Peter McVerry (pic 3 right) in front of a derelict building in Dublin city centre urging people to join a housing demo and rally on December 1 in Dublin.

Sam Boal/RollingNews

This afternoon.

In his reserved judgment, Mr Justice Max Barrett noted the council knew from at least August 2017 that the man had an access agreement with his former partner as both had signed an ‘agreement of parents’ form issued by the council.

He said social housing “assessment” under Section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 is separate from social housing “allocation” which occurs under an allocation scheme adopted by the Council under various provisions of the 2009 Act.

Section 20 states “household” means: “(a) a person who lives alone, (b), two or more persons who live together, or (C) two or more persons who do not live together but who, in the opinion of the housing authority concerned, have a reasonable requirement to live together”.

Separated father loses challenge against one-bedroom flat allocation (mary Carolan, Irish Times)



Saturday.

Sandyford, Dublin 18 (opposite Stillorgan Luas station)

Activists from Dundrum Housing Action Group drill a ‘Not For Sale sign at a site listed for residential housing development during a 24 hr protest.

The site, with planning permission for 459 apartments opposite Stillorgan Luas stop, is owned by NAMA and the group want it used for social housing.

Dundrum Housing Action Group

Previously: Sandyford site for 459 apartments guiding €36m (irish Times, October 31)

 Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie, third pic via Dundrum Housing Action Group