November 19, 2016
– Party unveils wide-ranging proposals to tackle housing crisis and homelessness –
The Government must ensure that a spike in homelessness is avoided from next month by extending rent certainty measures which are due to expire in the first week in December. That’s according to the Social Democrats, who are having their inaugural national conference at The Convention Centre Dublin today (19.11.16).
Commenting at the event, Catherine Murphy TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, said: “The measures introduced last year to curtail ongoing rent hikes will begin to expire for many tenants in a few weeks’ time. The measures were far from perfect, but at least they offered some protection for tenants and gave some breathing space.
“From December onwards, many tenants across the country face the prospect of huge rent increases, which – for some – may result in them losing their homes. There is an urgent need for the Government to extend these measures to prevent a spike in homelessness.”
Deputy Murphy also called for an immediate linking of rents to the Consumer Price Index until there is sufficient housing to drive down rents.
“There is no bigger challenge facing our society and economy at present than the housing crisis,” she said. “Ordinary homes in Galway and Cork cost five times more than the average annual wage. In Dublin, it’s eight times.
“Average rents have spiralled almost 50 per cent in the last four years alone. The State has all but abdicated its duty to provide social housing, opting instead for its preferred outsourcing model and an increasing reliance on the free market. We have to get back to what it means to provide ‘a home’ and not just ‘a property’.
“The current housing and homelessness crisis not only scars the social fabric of our country but also undermines our competitiveness and labour mobility.”
At today’s event, the Social Democrats presented a range of policy proposals to increase housing supply, stabilise rents, and address homelessness. These include:
· Increasing the social housing mix in all new private developments from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, and funding developers earlier in the process than at present.
· Bringing forward the implementation of the vacant site levy (due to be introduced in 2018) to July 2017; removing plot-size exemptions on buildable land; and raising the levy rate the longer a site remains vacant.
· Giving the Housing Agency an overall coordinating function on land management and an explicit remit to pursue economies of scale across sites, so that costs are reduced.
· Increasing Exchequer funding – under the Capital Assistance Scheme and the Capital Advanced Leasing Facility – for social housing delivery by housing associations.
· Creating a special-purpose vehicle to provide a multi-billion-euro fund for the construction of starter homes, affordable rental properties and direct social housing provision.
· Planning for adequate numbers of tradespeople with the required skills to meet the increased activity and demand in the housing market, including promoting apprenticeships for all trades in the building industry.
Further information about the Social Democrats’ national conference is available at www.socialdemocrats.ie.
Contact: Martina Quinn / Emily Brennan, Alice PR & Events, Tel: 087-6522033 / 086-1658629, Email: [email protected]
· The Social Democrats’ national conference is being live-streamed throughout the day at: https://socialdemocrats.ie/first-national-conference/live-stream/.
· @SocDems, #SocDems