By Gráinne Ní Aodha and Cate McCurry, PA
Ireland’s ongoing housing crisis is the one of the “longest and most severe” the country has seen, a housing campaigner said.
Macdara Doyle claimed the housing policies brought in by successive governments have failed to tackle the crisis.
On Tuesday, the Raise the Roof campaign announced plans for a series of regional and national public meetings on the housing crisis over the coming weeks.
At a launch event in Dublin, the group said it will hold the meetings in a bid to build public support for solutions to the crisis and alternative policies on housing.
Peter McVerry, who has worked in homelessness services for over 40 years, said he has “never been more despaired or depressed” about the state of Ireland’s housing.
He also called on the Government to implement the 1973 Kenny report, which contained measures for controlling the price of building land in the “interests of the common good”.
Fr McVerry said the measures contained in the report, published almost five decades ago, will reduce the cost of housing by at least 30 per cent.
“How can we bring down the cost of rents? My proposal, which will never be accepted, is to reduce rents across the board by 25 per cent, reduce the tax that landlords pay on their rental income by 50 per cent.
“That’s a win-win for renters and landlords.”
He also called on the Government to extend the eviction ban for another three years after a similar measure was used during the pandemic to protect renters.
“We need to get (the right to housing) into the constitution. We need to move fast because in December Fine Gael take over the Taoiseach’s office and Fine Gael have always been opposed to the right to housing in the constitution,” Fr McVerry added.
Peter McVerry speaking at the Raise the Roof Launch.
Making very clear and reasonable calls about how to address the housing and homelessness crisis. pic.twitter.com/UQXVeo8PSd
— Cian O'Callaghan T.D. (@OCallaghanCian) May 31, 2022
“So unless there’s considerable movement between now and December, my fear is the right to housing will go on the back boiler.
“The governments’ mantra is supply is the solution. That’s only half true. The solution is affordable supply.”
On Friday, it emerged that the number of homeless adults and children has risen above 10,000 for the first time since the pandemic.
According to Department of Housing figures for April, there are 7,105 adults and 2,944 children registered as homeless – a total of 10,049.
Mr Doyle, the campaign’s co-ordinator, described the housing crisis as one of the “longest and most severe” the country has seen, adding: “We have an affordability crisis for renters and homebuyers with virtually an entire generation of young workers and families now locked out of the housing market.
“We also have a serious security-of-tenure crisis in the rental sector that has seen evictions almost triple since pandemic restrictions were lifted.
“We know that evictions are the single greatest cause of homelessness and so the cycle repeats and the downward spiral continues.
“The policies of successive governments have failed to tackle these multiple crises and have arguably made them worse.
“We have a remarkable capacity to keep repeating the same failed policies and to keep expecting different outcomes.
“There’s a common thread that runs through Rebuilding Ireland and Housing for All and it’s namely that the state has effectively abandoned its role in the direct housing provision and outsources to private interests.
“We are convinced that this crisis will continue to deepen until the state reverses this policy and once again takes a leading role in housing provision, tackles affordability, delivers genuine security for tenants, and creates a new legal right to housing.”
Phil Ni Sheaghdha, general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and current vice president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said provision of public services will be affected if its workers cannot afford to live in cities.
Ms Ni Sheaghdha also said that essential workers and students should have the right to live in subsidised housing beside their place of work, including public hospitals and health care facilities.
“We’re now in a situation where students can’t source accommodation and you’d want to have pretty wealthy parents in order to afford rent,” she added.
“This will leave us in a situation where only those who have sufficient funds can become the future of our country and we believe that that is focused on elitism at a level that just cannot be acceptable to anybody.
“Student nurses, for example, have long been on a campaign to have their accommodation costs covered because they don’t get paid at all.”
The series of regional and national public meetings will hear from housing experts, trade unions, political parties, and people directly affected by the crisis.