Martin: Winter eviction ban potential option but not solution to homeless crisis

Taoiseach Micheal Martin also told the Dail that 8,000 social homes would be built this year.
Martin: Winter eviction ban potential option but not solution to homeless crisis

By Michelle Devane, PA

A winter eviction ban is being considered by Government but it is “not the solution” to the homelessness crisis, the Dáil has heard.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said a temporary ban on residential tenancy evictions is a “potential option” but that “ultimately it’s about supply” and building more houses.

He made the remarks on Tuesday in response to calls from Sinn Féin to introduce a winter eviction ban before the homeless crisis worsens.

“In terms of the winter eviction ban it is not today or yesterday that these issues are being considered by Government,” the Taoiseach said.

“We considered it during Covid because the circumstances existed during Covid, which justified such a winter eviction ban. The Government acted on that.

“That’s just one potential option, but it’s not the solution. And in fact, some of the homeless organisations would accept that it’s not the solution. Hence they talk about a temporary winter eviction ban.

“There’s other policy issues that have to be assessed in that context as well to make sure that we have a significant supply into the rental market, which is a concern. Which is a problem in terms of getting more houses back into the rental market, to rent out to people because there’s been a decline in the number of houses available for rent since 2017,” he said.


Mr Martin added that ultimately the crisis is all about supply. “We need to be building more houses and we are,” he said.

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy told the Dáil Ireland will hit the “shameful milestone” of 11,000 people being recorded as homeless unless the Government acts now with “real intent”.

“For two months in a row now we’ve had record levels of homelessness reported,” he said.

“Within a month or two unless something drastic changes we will hit and exceed the shameful milestone of an official homelessness figure of 11,000 people.

“The human stories behind this figure are stories of real hardship. Families living in tents, children growing up in hotels and B&Bs not knowing the security of a place they can call home… The Government needs to act now with real intent.”

Mr Carthy described the Budget as “deeply disappointing” given the scale of the challenge that now exists.

“There is no increase in social housing targets. In fact, the insufficient targets that are there will not be met this year,” he claimed.

“There was no funding for any new initiative to prevent the dramatic rise in homelessness. And even though the majority of those forced into homelessness are coming from the private sector, there is no ban on evictions.

“The truth is that without a significant change of direction of these areas, we’re going to see more and more families pushed into homelessness and into the nightmare of a winter without a secure roof over their head.”

He described the rising homeless figures as an “emergency” and called on the Taoiseach to deliver an “an emergency response”.

“I’m urging you Taoiseach to bring that urgency to change direction and to immediately introduce a winter ban on evictions,” he said.

Mr Martin, in response, said the issue “goes to the heart of the kind of society we are and want to be” and that the Government is “very concerned” about the rising figures.

The Fianna Fáil leader said “very significant” protections had been brought in aimed at protecting people from homelessness including legislation to increase the notice-to-quit period for tenancies of three years duration or less, from 28 days to three months.

He also told the Dáil that 8,000 social homes would be built this year.

“The target is about 10,000 builds between approved social housing bodies and local authorities on an annual basis.

“We will get over 8,000 this year which is a major increase. And we want to be consistently at above that figure for the next 10 years.”

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