David Murphy/Darby Savage
Welcome to the second Housing Crisis Update, your weekly round-up of news about the Irish housing emergency. To subscribe to the podcast, click here.
Coming home? Bring money
Last Thursday the Examiner reported that returning emigrants face significant barriers to accessing housing and social welfare.
Representatives from Safe Home, Cross Care and The Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas, appearing before a government committee, name-checked a lack of knowledge, delays and the housing crisis as aggravating factors.
Asking for housing to be allocated for the migrants, they made special mention of returning elderly wanting to spend their remaining years in Ireland.
The groups asked that the thirty recommendations made in the Indecon Economic Report on Addressing Challenges Faced by Returning Irish Emigrants be acted on, noting that no time frame has been set or productive action taken since its publication in February.
Build a bridge
Meanwhile, protesters took over Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge to raise awareness of the housing crisis.
Take Back The City, a group campaigning for better housing conditions, with a focus on victims of domestic violence, took to the bridge with a megaphone shouting: “Housing is a human right” and “Leo, Leo, Leo, Out, Out, Out” before unfurling a banner on the bridge that read: “Housing cuts makes women bleed.”
The new contract to provide Housing First services in Dublin is worth more than five times the value of the original contract in 2014.
The Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) issued a tender on Friday worth €16.4 million for for the service, which involves the provision of housing and health supports.
A condition is that the successful bid must source accommodation in the private market, with funding outside of that provided by the tender, and offer “intensive, time-unlimited visiting support” to the tenant in the home.
Government has been criticised in a report last week for its focus on short-term housing solutions provided through the private rented sector. In its thrice-yearly update, Social Justice Ireland noted the lack of investment of capital spending in social housing.
The same report indicated that 780,000 people reported to be living in poverty in Ireland, including a quarter of a million children.
Thousand protest, everything okay
A demo organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition took place days after the Housing Department released its homeless figures for October, which stand at nearly 10,000.
They gathered at the Garden of Remembrance before marching through the city. People Before Profit co-chairperson Tina McVeigh said the homeless figures were "the sharp edge of the wedge".
Speaking to the crowd, she said: "Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and Fine Gael tried to tell us that everything was okay. They talk about the economy and they want us to think we all have highly-paid jobs. They want us to believe that everything is okay.”
“We are saying it's not okay.”
Mary Lou lashes Leo
FM104 reported Mary Lou McDonald “lashed out” at Leo Varadkar after attending the protest, with the Sinn Féin leader noting a thousand children have become homeless on his watch.
Cork housing halts biz
The Evening Echo reported on Sunday that IMEC execs met with senior managers at Cork County Council to say the housing shortage in Cork is causing “a slowdown in business expansion” with anaemic progress on key infrastructure projects.
Grinch on call for Elaine, in Dail
Mary Lou might have been talking about a mum who is facing eviction “any day before Christmas”, referred to only as “Elaine” in the Dail last week, the Irish Mirror reported on Monday.
Elaine received a formal termination notice to vacate the apartment in April as the landlord is selling the property.
Asked to leave by September 7th, she has still not found somewhere else to live.
Elaine said: “I don’t want to spend Christmas in a hotel with four children, they won’t have a Christmas tree, or a proper Christmas, and there will be nowhere to celebrate with family.”
Her case was raised by the People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett.
Over at Dublin Live the latest Rough Sleeper Count released by Dublin City Council shows that 156 people were sleeping rough in the capital's streets on the night of the count.
Take a chance on Ruari
Meanwhile, independent councillor Ruairi McGinley called for people in emergency accommodation who use hotels and B&Bs to pay between €20 and €50 a week, saying
“if they find out there's free accommodation, they’re taking a chance.”
He went on to say “half the accommodation mightn't be what you like but half of it is. And if you find something suitable you get to stay there free of charge.”
Labour housing spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan labelled the comments as "kite-flying" and designed to "stir up some animosity about people who are homeless”.
Sure Ruari’s a great fella altogether.
The Irish Times reports that Fianna Fáil is to push the Government to use credit union funds to help tackle the housing crisis as part of the deal between the two parties to keep the Government in power.
The Irish League of Credit Unions says it has €700 million ready to put into housing, but reforms from the Department of Finance have not been implemented.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael negotiating teams were scheduled to hold three sessions to negotiate the cinifdence and supply arrangement, the final of which will be held today.
Latent demand 'not a thing'
RTE reports that despite strong growth in the rate of new home building this year, it will take until 2021 before housing supply will match current demand, “notwithstanding the fact that latent demand will not have been addressed during this period.”
At the launch of Peter McVerry’s annual report on Tuesday, junior housing minister Damien English responded to comments by the eponymous priest that government and State officials were trying to ‘change the narrative’ around homelessness. English said “no one’s changing the narrative here”.
Fr McVerry said that some politicians and officials “complained that the constant media attention to the problem of homelessness is damaging to Ireland’s international reputation.”
He was not present at the launch.
Dublin 'great little earner' says hot money
Wednesday yielded good news for property speculation in the capital, with RTE reporting that Dublin is ranked in third place out of 31 European cities in the latest PwC/ULI Emerging Trends in Real Estate Europe report, with Lisbon taking the top spot; commiserations Lisbon!
As in the 1960s, disruptions to the British property market have made Ireland a more attractive place to invest as the spectre of Brexit looms large.
Teacher, laundry, suicide hotline
And today, the Independent reports on the plight of a Dublin teacher who ran to get help after a young homeless mother called her, contemplating suicide.
Revealing the “hidden cost” of the housing crisis, she said she had washed pupils’ clothes for hotel-bound parents without facilities.
"I'm at the end of my tether," she said.
The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) have said teachers are "struggling to cope" with child homelessness.
The Indo features an editorial calling for a rethink of NAMA’s mission after it was revealed the so-called ‘bad bank’ had sold a fifth of the 8,000 units it has built since 2014 to investors.
The “vast bulk” of the homes built using funding from the State have also been sold at a premium of around €300,000 a throw.
Tax best form of offence
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has announced new laws to punish landlords who raise rents above the legal limit, however a proposal by Sinn Fein to cap rent increases for three years went by the wayside with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying he favoured tax cuts "because other people struggle", not just renters.
Looking forward to it Leo!