Lobby shows 'political appetite' for change in housing policy ahead of Raise The Roof rally

Lobby shows 'political appetite' for change in housing policy ahead of Raise The Roof rally

A TD lobby campaign on the issue of housing shows strong support for radical action to tackle the housing and homeless emergency.

This comes ahead of the Raise the Roof rally in Dublin tomorrow.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions lobby campaign focused on TDs in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Independents in government and sought their support for the Congress Charter for Housing Rights, which called for the declaration of a housing emergency, an end to evictions into homelessness, action of security of tenure and rent certainty and establishing a legal right to housing.

The lobby campaign showed the strongest support for the measures outlined in the Charter amongst Fianna Fáil TDs, with the overwhelming majority of the parliamentary party stating they were ‘very supportive’ or ‘broadly supportive’.

There was also support among Fine Gael TDs and some independents some of the measures.

The lobby campaign took place between February-June 2018.

Speaking ahead of the Raise the Roof rally outside Leinster House on Wednesday, Congress President Sheila Nunan said the results of the lobby campaign “showed clear support for a significant and radical change in policy on housing, to tackle the emergency.

We're told the land is there and the resources can be found. It now seems clear that the political appetite for a change of direction is also there.

The Raise the Roof rally has been called in support of an opposition party motion on housing that is scheduled to be debated in the Dáil on October 3.

The motion is supported by Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, the Labour Party, Solidarity, the Social Democrats and the Green Party and Independents4Change.

The agreed opposition motion calls for measures similar to those outlined in the Congress Charter.

The Raise the Roof rally will feature a number of keynote speakers, including: Sheila Nunan (ICTU); Síona Cahill (USI); Orla O’Connor (NWCI); Peter McVerry; Keith Troy (Homeless & Housing Coalition) and Aisling Hederman and others.

Singers Damien Dempsey and Frances Black will also perform at the rally, which takes place outside Leinster House on Wednesday, October 3 from 12.30pm-2pm.

The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice has urged people to support the rally, saying that this is an important opportunity to highlight the depth of the housing crisis and the need for a radical change in the Government’s housing policies.

Fr Peter McVerry
Fr Peter McVerry

“As Christians, we must be profoundly disturbed by the fact that in Ireland, one of the richest countries in the world, hundreds of thousands of people are enduring insecure, overcrowded and unsuitable living conditions, financial hardship, stress and anxiety, as a result of housing problems of one kind or another," said Fr Peter McVerry of the Jesuit Centre.

This situation represents a grave social injustice, with deeply damaging consequences for individuals, families, and society as a whole.

“The impact of the housing crisis has now being experienced by a wide range of people in our society – most obviously, those who are homeless, but also young people forced to pay a disproportionate share of their income on rent or unable to leave home because of lack of accommodation; older people in private rental housing living in fear of losing their home because of an unaffordable rent increase; people living in Direct Provision even after they have been given refugee status because there is no alternative accommodation available; young people on middle incomes seeing their aspiration to own their own home becoming ever more unattainable.”

Meanwhile, figures obtained by Dublin Councillor Charlie O’Connor reveal that as of the end of August, 640 people in South Dublin are registered as homeless and in desperate need of housing accommodation.

“Over the summer, one mother and six of her children were left with no alternative than to present themselves to our local Garda Station in Tallaght to spend the night. That one incident shed some light on the impossible choices faced by so many families living in homelessness," said Cllr Charlie O’Connor.

“It’s sadly been too long the case that very vulnerable people across the South County, including those in receipt of social welfare or surviving on a low income have struggling to find suitable affordable accommodation.

Middle income earners are now becoming priced out of the private rental market as rent soars. They earn too much to be eligible for public housing but not enough to come close to the possibility of a mortgage or meet the sustainable cost of long-term renting.

“It’s therefore no surprise that without Government action, this crisis has left go to boiling point and 165 more people in our area have been forced to deem themselves homeless in the past 12 months.

“There are now over 7,000 people on the social housing waiting list in South Dublin. Really the scale of development in social and public housing that is needed is not happening to meet this demand,” concluded Cllr O’Connor.

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