David Murphy headshot

Dublin, Ireland

24.01.2019

Thank you for joining me for your weekly edition of Housing Crisis Update.  For the podcast version, click here.

 

Fag factory fealty

 

Following comments from Labour councillor Rebecca Moynihan earlier this month, People Before Profit are to stage a public rally at the the Player Wills site on South Circular Road to demand the site is used for housing.

 

The party hope the rallies will convince the government to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order so the building can be used for publicly-funded homes.

 

People Before Profit councillor Tina MacVeigh said that “the market solutions imposed by the government have only exacerbated the housing crisis.”  She added that the Player Wills and nearby Bailey Gibson sites could be converted in to 500 housing units.  The protest will take place at 1pm on Saturday, 26 January.  Reporting by Mark O’Brien at Dublin Live.

 

Where’s deh flats

 

Indobusiness reports that apartment completions grew by just 8pc last year, compared to an increase in housing supply overall of 30%.  This is despite Ireland having the lowest share of apartments in its housing stock in the European Union. Dermot O’Leary, Chief Economist at Goodbody Stockbrokers attributed the low level of apartment building to ”uncertainty around building regulations but pointed to significant growth in planning applications granted for planning under new guidelines.”

 

Vacant expression of interest

 

On Saturday, Oonagh Smyth reporting for RTÉ reveals the reasons why so few local authorities are imposing fines on landowners who have been hoarding land rather than developing it for housing.

 

The prospect of the fine, known as the Vacant Site Levy, was hoped to kick-start development and help ease the housing crisis, but planning law barrister Oisín Collins said “legislation is too vaguely drafted and it is giving rise to a large amount of subjective application”, saying that legal challenges were “inevitable”.

 

Progress reports by local authorities - submitted to the Department of Housing last November and released under a Freedom of information request - show administrative difficulties in implementing the legislation stating the task of establishing ownership has led to "long delays", with new registrations of title and changes of ownership is resulting in a "subsequent return of notices”. 

 

The piece concludes that “putting the fear of a major fine into land owners sitting on land may be some way off in many local authorities.”

 

Confidence, but no supply

 

Fianna Fáil's Housing spokesman Darragh O'Brien has said the government could use Credit Unions to prevent the crisis from getting worse.

 

He said he cannot think of a reason why it has not been utilised saying it was “a financial resource that could provide thousands of homes and the Credit Union sector are ready, willing and able.”

 

Credit Unions have been approved to invest in social and affordable housing by the Central Bank since last year.

 

MTR could help more 

 

The Examiner in its Our View section points to the work of iCare Housing, which was launched last week and has already approved almost 600 applicants to the organisation’s scheme to keep distressed borrowers in their homes.

 

The Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation’s David Hall said iCare could help even more people if limits on the mortgage-to-rent scheme were eased, with an estimated 15,000 cases where eviction may be a real possibility that could be resolved if changes were made by the Department of Housing.

 

Kids are the real losers 

 

Stephen McNeice at Newstalk reports on Temple Street Children’s Hospital which notes a 29% increase in the number of patients being discharged into homelessness.

 

842 children who attended Temple Street’s Emergency Department last year were living in emergency accommodation or had no fixed address, with a quarter of them less than one year old. This represents  an increase of 191 children compared with figures from 2017.

 

Anne Marie Jones, Head Medical Social Worker at Temple Street, called the situation ‘shameful' with 23% of children presenting with trauma such as hand and arm injuries, head lacerations, burns and self-harm.

 

The most recent official homeless figures last November showed 3,811 children living in emergency accommodation.

Just spend the money?

An inquest at Dublin’s Coroner’s Court into a fire at a halting site in Carrickmines in 2015, has provoked a call for amendments to legislation that ensure temporary emergency halting sites meet fire safety and planning regulations.

Housing
Crisis
Update 

The inquest into the fire which killed 10 people including a five-month-old baby, revealed that the porta-cabins on the site did not meet building regulations and that their close proximity “virtually assured” that the fire would spread.

Pavee Point said that “there are currently temporary emergency sites in existence that have been there for 30 years. And each year money for Traveller accommodation is returned to central government by local authorities – unspent.”

 

In late 2016 Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council established on land adjacent to the original site a permanent halting site named Tír na Chroí, to which all fire and safety regulations apply.

 

The iron cage 

 

Families in Dublin who present as homeless outside office hours have been told by the City Council to register at a Garda station, before they can avail of services.

 

A prominent homeless charity has said many families are afraid to go to the Gardaí because it could mean a referral to the Child and Family Agency Tusla.

 

Inner City Helping Homeless’ Anthony Flynn said that “Garda stations are for criminals … not … families.

 

Previously a team from the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive was on call to help such families, face-to-face; however, that has now been reduced to a phone helpline.

 

Leo’s homeless electors

 

Amy Molloy reporting yesterday for the Indo says residents living in an apartment block close to the home of An Taoiseach have been issued with notices to quit from a receiver, just weeks after Christmas.

 

Tenants living in Riverwood Hall apartments in Castleknock say they are “shocked”, with some fearing homelessness.

 

Tenants received a letter from Hooke & MacDonald estate agents on behalf of the appointed receivers Grant Thornton; they are administering of the estate of Liam Maye who is deceased, but owed millions to so-called ‘bad bank’ NAMA.

 

NAMA had previously made an application to remove the widow of the late developer as executor of Mr Maye’s estate.

 

A spokesperson for receiver Grant Thornton said the notices are compliant with the Tyrrelstown Amendment as only 9 apartments have been issued termination notices.  This amendment was introduced in 2016 after a public outcry to prevent a slew of evictions from a single development,  however it is only applicable to evictions from ten properties or more.

 

A spokesperson for An Taoiseach said that he will "respond to any requests for assistance” and that none of his constituents had so far made contact.

 

You can’t handle the truth

 

Gordon Deegan for the Examiner reports yesterday on dramatic scenes at Ennis Circuit Court as a judge ordered the jailing of two men in relation to an attempted repossession of a property in Corofin in County Clare.

 

Justice Patrick Meghen ordered Tommy Collins, a member of the Anti-Eviction Task Force and Brian McCarthy of Tralee, Co Kerry to be gaoled for contempt of court.

 

At the courthouse in Ennis around thirty Gardaí prevented members of Anti-Eviction Task Force from going inside.  The crowd around the courthouse had responded to a Facebook post which called on people “to show support against the criminal justice system and the criminal banksters” and featured photos of circuit court judges, a partner in the legal firm representing the Bank of Ireland and two members of their counsel. 

 

Mr McCarthy was brought into court by two Gardaí and had to be manhandled into the dock of the court when he resisted.

 

Counsel for Bank of Ireland, Michael Collins SC said that Tommy Collins, assisted by Mr McCarthy, had refused the vacate his property since the Bank of Ireland obtained a repossession order in 2012.

 

The judge ordered both men to be imprisoned at Limerick until they had purged their contempt.