Trade Unions, Housing Advocates, Community & Campaign Groups Issue Joint Call for Radical Change in Housing Policy

5 Sep 2018

Raise the Roof Logo Raise the Roof Rally on Oct 3

Trade Unions, Housing Advocates, Community & Campaign Groups Issue Joint Call for Radical Change in Housing Policy

A wide range of trade unions, housing advocates, campaign groups and civil society bodies have issued a joint call for a radical shift in housing policy and have voiced their support for an October 3 rally outside Leinster House. 

The Raise the Roof initiative involves housing advocates such as Fr Peter McVerry, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the National Homeless & Housing Coalition, the Union of Students in Ireland, the National Women’s Council and other civil society groups. 

A special launch in Buswells Hotel on Thursday September 6 @ 11.30am heard calls for sweeping change in housing policy, including support for a major programme of public housing construction, an end to evictions into homelessness and the establishment of a legal right to housing. 

Among the speakers were Irish Congress of Trade Unions President Sheila Nunan, Fr Peter McVerry of the Peter McVerry Trust, Orla O’Connor of the National Women’s Council, Michelle Byrne of Union of Students in Ireland and Aisling Bruen of the National Homeless & Housing Coalition.

The participants also called for support for a special rally on October 3 that has been organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. The rally has been called in support of an opposition party motion on housing that is scheduled to be debated in the Dáil that day.

The motion is supported by Sinn Fein, People Before Profit, the Labour Party, Solidarity, the Social Democrats and the Green Party and Independents4Change, with others expected to add their backing. 

Speaking at the launch, Congress President Sheila Nunan said: “This crisis is an issue for everyone. It is now almost impossible for workers, young families and students to secure decent, affordable accommodation and this has put intolerable pressure on living standards across all sectors. We need to see a dramatic increase in the supply of quality, affordable public housing. Housing is a human right and should not be the plaything of speculators.”

Fr Peter McVerry said: “When will the emperor finally realise that he has no clothes? Homeless figures are up, house prices are up and the fact that government policy has failed is staring us all in the face. The old refrain from government that ‘we just need more time’ just does not wash anymore. We need to see a dramatic change in policy to resolve this worsening crisis.”

Orla O’Connor of the National Women’s Council said: “The crisis is clearly a woman’s issue, with our rate of female homelessness now double that of other European countries. More than 60% of homeless families are lone parent families, the majority lone mothers. The shocking rates of women and child homelessness are a result of the dramatic increase in families forced from their homes due to rising rents, the majority of whom are women-headed lone parent families.”

Michelle Byrne of the USI said: “The Union of Students in Ireland is calling for a higher supply of quality and affordable student accommodation. We also want to see Purpose Build Student Accommodation (PBSA) rent caps of 4% as currently they do not fall under the rent pressure zones legislation. Students also need legislation to be put in place for digs-style accommodation in order to give them greater security and protection.”

Speaking on behalf of the National Homeless & Housing Coalition, Aisling Bruen said: The housing crisis is not a natural disaster but one that has been made by human hands. People face evictions, are stuck in overcrowded homes, in hostels, hotels and direct provision: this has become our 'new normal’ – we all know someone who has been affected. It is unacceptable and at a national level grassroot and community action in response to the crisis is now growing.”