'Government Response to Housing Crisis Characterised by Gestures & Systemic Policy Failure'

22 Jan 2018

Housing Housing crisis continues

- Conference to see launch of Charter for Housing Rights

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary Patricia King has criticised the government’s response to the housing and homelessness crisis as one that is “characterised by gestures, systemic policy failure and lacks the urgency and overall coherence that this very real emergency demands.”

Ms King was speaking ahead of a major conference on housing and homelessness organised by Congress for Tuesday January 23 that features contributions from all major political parties and the key housing and homeless agencies.

Ms King said: “It is clear to us and to many agencies operating on the front line that we are in the midst of a very real emergency, with respect to housing and homelessness. Lives are being damaged and destroyed and a whole generation of younger workers now wonders whether they will ever be in position to find suitable, secure and affordable accommodation.

“In that context, measures such as those announced on Monday – making limited credit available to home buyers, through local authorities – are no more than gestures, given their likely impact and the scale of what we as a society are facing,” Ms King said.

“What we are witnessing is systemic policy failure of the highest order. The key problem is a severe lack of supply of public housing and the fact that the state has abandoned housing policy to developers.”

Ms King said the Congress conference would set out how trade unions across the country will now embark on a major public campaign – including lobbying all TDs at constituency level – to ensure there was a major change of policy at national level and an “urgent, coherent and significantly enhanced official response to the crisis.”

The Congress campaign will focus on adoption of the Charter for Housing Rights, which sets out key principles on the creation of a secure and sustainable housing system, including: Declaring a Housing Emergency, Establishing a Legal Right to Housing, Guaranteeing Tenants Rights, Preventing Evictions into Homelessness and developing a National Land Use policy.

The Congress conference on January 23 - How We Can Resolve the Housing Crisis – features participation from all major political groups, including: Maria Bailey (FG); Eoin O’Broin (SF): Richard Boyd-Barrett (PbP); Barry Cowen (FF) and Jan O’Sullivan (Lab).

It will also feature contributions from the major housing and homeless agencies and advocacy groups, including: Mike Allen (Focus); Niamh Randall (Simon); John Mark McCafferty (Threshold); Francis Doherty (Peter McVerry Trust).

The conference will also hear from housing experts Dr Lorcan Sirr (DIT) and Mel Reynolds.

It will be addressed by Congress General Secretary Patricia King and Congress President Sheila Nunan, who will set out the details of the next phase of the Congress campaign on housing.