Sinn Féin housing policy would ensure fairness

SINN FÉIN IN GOVERNMENT would ensure a fair rental system for tenants by regulating the market as detailed in our comprehensive policy document Better4Housing, outlining our vision for a better housing system. Inaddition to arange of measures to tackle housing need and a major investment package for social and affordable housing, Sinn Féin would ensure that fairness was the cornerstone of the Irish rental market with strong protections for tenants and regulations to tackle spiralling rents.

A dramatically increased housing supply will bring down rents and give tenants choice but regulations can be delivered right now which would ease the hardship lumped on the many thousands of renters with unaffordable rent rates.

Sinn Féin would introduce real rent certainty through limits on the potential for future increases by index linking rents to the Consumer Price Index. This would help many tenants who may welcome the delay in rent reviews the government has sought but still fear a large hike in rents when a review happens. It will also stop landlords from implementing large increases in rent between tenancies which the government plans do not address.

For many tenants though, their rent has already exceeded what they can afford. This is why we would empower Local Authorities and the PRTB to set standard local rates which landlords could not exceed.

Sinn Féin would provide greater security of tenure for tenants so they cannot be so easily evicted if a landlord feels he can get higher rent levels with another tenant. Too many landlords in recent years have used false claims of renovations or plans to sell to remove tenants, only to re-let the property for a higher rate of rent. All of these measures in conjunction with major investment in the construction, acquisition and refurbishment of social and affordable housing will see a fairer, more stable housing system which meets the needs of everyone.

Regarding modular housing, we recognise the need for immediate interventions to provide additional emergency accommodation. All options should be looked at to increase capacity while real housing is brought into use but real housing should always be the priority. Even in the emergency situation we have, we must act sensibly.

Modular units have a use but the government’s plan is not good enough. In Ballymun we have temporary units being put in place which cost as much as €70,000 more than it would cost to buy a house in the local area which would serve as a permanent home for a family. If we can place homeless families in permanent housing right now for a similar cost, then we should be prioritising that approach.

Sinn Féin would increase homeless funding and invest in housing – Ellis

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD said that Sinn Féin in government would increase homeless funding to tackle the emergency and also invest in housing to end the crisis in the long term. He made his comments today following the launch of the Sinn Féin Alternative Budget document ‘Delivering A Fair Recovery’, which sets out alternative measures for the government to consider for the upcoming budget.

Deputy Ellis said;

“The document we launch today is an attempt to engage the government on the options open to them for this budget. It provides costed and specific proposals which show Fine Gael and Labour that they can do things differently.

“2015 has seen the issue of homelessness come to the forefront. Homelessness had been steadily increasing under this government but this year has seen an unprecedented number of people losing their homes. Now well over 1000 children are in emergency accommodation along with their parents and many more single people. The government’s response has been an embarrassment and clearly outlines their lack of desire to really tackle the problem and help these most vulnerable people.

“The homelessness crisis has been caused by a failure to provide affordable housing which led to higher rents. The increased numbers losing their homes have been too much for under-funded homelessness services who struggle to provide sufficient beds for the night, never mind rehousing the people who use their service.

“Sinn Féin proposes that this budget prioritises the housing and homeless crisis. The document calls for an additional 300 million euro spend on housing in 2016, nearly double the commitment likely to be made by the government. This money will be used to build and refurbish more houses which will cut waiting lists, stabilise rents and allow local authorities to house people currently in homelessness.

“Sinn Féin through this document shows the government how an additional 20 million euro could be earmarked for homelessness funding which would address the current shortfall. This would help to provide additional beds, support and housing initiatives for people experiencing homeless. The document also contains details of how the government could provide an additional 5.45 million euro to women’s refuges to deal with a large increase in demand for services provided for women fleeing domestic violence in the last few years as well as previous budget cuts enacted by the government.

“Homelessness supports alone will not end the crisis though. We must shift focus from providing a bed for the night to providing homes for families and single people who are now dependent on emergency accommodation. Sinn Féin has already outlined measures to use 1.25 billion euro from the Irish Strategic Investment Fund to help build thousands of social housing units. We will soon release a document further detailing plans for additional annual investment in social housing which will provide for the construction  of several thousand more homes a year for those on waiting lists.

“Sinn Féin would also introduce rent regulation measures to decrease rents in the private market, limit future increases and so stop the flow of existing tenants into homelessness.
“No single policy will end homelessness or the housing crisis but with the range of measures proposed by Sinn Féin and a shift towards providing housing as Sinn Féin would do in government, we can begin to turn the tide and make the right to a home a reality.”