Raise the Roof Launches Major Campaign on Right to Housing

24 Jan 2019


The Raise the Roof campaign platform today (Jan. 24) unveiled plans for a major national campaign focused on securing a significant programme of public housing construction, action on rents and tenant security and the creation of a new, legal Right to Housing.

The co-ordinated national campaign will see a major conference on housing, a national petition to build public support for a legal Right to Housing, a series of regional rallies and lobbying of local authorities on delivery of public housing, along with the holding of a national demonstration, later in 2019.

The housing conference takes place on Wednesday, January 30 in Dublin and will feature a range of expert speakers outlining the need to deliver a significant programme of public housing and establish a legal Right to Housing.

Speaking at the launch, Sheila Nunan, President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said: “This week marks the centenary of the First Dail and the Democratic Programme, which demanded that private property rights be ‘subordinated’ to wider public welfare. Today’s housing emergency graphically illustrates the failure to do so.

“Last October, with support from Raise the Roof in the form of a major rally, the Dail overwhelmingly passed an opposition motion demanding action of evictions and rents, increased investment in public housing and the creation of a legal Right to Housing. That motion also remains unrealised and we are now calling for its full implementation. Our campaign for 2019 is focused on delivering these measures and ensuring that citizens secure a Right to Housing.”

Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council, said: “The housing emergency presents us with one of our most serious equality challenges. With some of the highest rates of female homelessness in Europe, this emergency is having a particularly devastating impact on lone-parent families, the majority of whom are led by women. Just this week, we heard how 842 children discharged from Temple Street's Emergency Department last year had no fixed home address and that, in the majority, their presentations stemmed from living in completely unsuitable, cramped and temporary accommodation. As women often engage in invisible forms of homelessness and because figures do not include the many women and children living in domestic violence refuges or residing in direct provision centres, it is likely official figures do not represent the full extent of the problem we have.”

Colm O'Halloran, Vice President of the Union of Students in Ireland, said: "Students are victims of this housing crisis - they are staying in poor quality private accommodation, in hostels or they are commuting long distances just to get to college. Students’ pockets are being robbed of every penny with high accommodation costs and the second highest fees in Europe. The reality is that students are being locked out of education.” 

Anthony Flynn, a founder member of Inner City Helping Homeless and representative of the National Homeless & Housing Coalition, said: “The motion that was passed in the Dail in October to implement a Right to Housing as well as action against evictions and increases in rental prices across the country hasn’t yet been implemented by government. We intend to take the Raise the Roof campaign across the country as the homeless and housing crisis impacts everyone, from students looking for accommodation to pensioners evicted from the private rental market. This is a national emergency with 4,000 children living in emergency accommodation. These children need homes built on public lands to properly develop and live normal lives. While official homeless figures sit just under the 10,000 mark we know that the real figure is much higher and with 50,000 mortgages in arrears we need immediate action from the government before the situation worsens - and we need the people of Ireland to join us in demanding a fairer country for all.”

The Raise the Roof housing conference takes place on January 30, and features a range of expert speakers, including: Mel Reynolds, Assistant Professor Orla Hegarty, Brendan Kenny (Dublin City Council), Professor Michelle Norris, Tanya Ward (Children’s Rights Alliance), Síona Cahill (USI), Rebecca Keatinge (Mercy Law Resource Centre) and Fergus Finlay (Home for Good).

Raise the Roof brings together trade unions, political parties, student unions, housing agencies and experts and community groups to demand radical action on the housing crisis, including: the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), the National Women’s Council (NWCI), the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), the National Homeless & Housing Coalition.

Raise the Roof organised a major demonstration on housing at Leinster House on October 3, 2018, which saw up to 15,000 take part. The rally was called in support of a cross party motion on housing that demanded radical action on the crisis. The motion was subsequently passed but has yet to be implemented