Ellis condemns slow progress on NAMA units

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson, Dessie Ellis TD, has condemned the government for slow progress on delivering social housing from NAMA and the lack of clarity about the process.

He made his comments following a response to a parliamentary question revealing that just under 1,000 of the 2,000 units are suitable and that so far, negotiations are only in progress on 700.

Deputy Ellis continued;

“This is shocking given the absolutely disastrous situation we are looking at in housing in this state.

We have over 100,000 on the waiting list for social housing and a half a billion euro being given to private landlords each year in rent supplement but the government and NAMA seem to be dragging their heels in a scheme that is rapidly looking less and less impressive. These units were heralded as the long sought social dividend by this government back in December but six months on no one has been housed.

Out of the 2,000 units, 697 are now deemed unsuitable and 344 have been taken out of the scheme by the developers NAMA is bailing out. This is not good enough. We need housing now and we need to provide it in a transparent and cost effective way. The government is refusing to give an estimate of cost but it is clear it will be a good pay day for developers.

Another worrying claim is that the government may try to house people in developments deemed unsuitable. They need to be clear on this. Planning for housing has been an utter failure of this state and we must ensure we will not be putting people in isolated or unsuitable conditions despite the immediate need to house people.

I call on the minister to outline clearly to the Dáil how this process is being carried out and to regularly update the public on the delivery of these units and further more genuine social dividends.

The people paid dearly for NAMA and this is not good enough.”

Government must act on Shared Ownership repossessions

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has called on the government to deal with the crisis in Shared Ownership mortgages. He spoke during a Dáil debate, called by the deputy, to discuss “a growing problem which will not just go away”

Deputy Ellis continued:

“By September there will likely be 70 shared ownership homes repossessed. About half of these have been surrendered, others engaged with the Council to attempt to solve the problem, but still lost their home.

With 30% of Shared Ownerships in 90 or more days of arrears and approximately 1,400 schemes in Dublin City Council area, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

There are 29 cases coming up that a Dublin City Council source has told me are people who are unable to pay and so will lose their homes. There are three repossessions happening in the Finglas this week. People are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up on their payments which as part of the deal go up every year. The rent paid to the Council goes up by 4% every year.

This is a problem created by government policy and it must be solved by government intervention. The state failed to deliver enough houses for people who had a housing need as determined by the Local Authorities.

It failed because it did not believe it had a responsibility to provide housing. It was wrong to believe this and the consequence is evident now with desperate people, who needed a home, left in mire of unviable debt and negative equity.

I ask the minister to do something to help ease this problem, to meet with local councils and to encourage a process of engagement with the residents which will recognise when debt is unviable and begin a resolution process.

It should also be the case that those who give up the shared ownership should be allowed to go on the waiting list for housing again and not treated as voluntarily homeless. In many cases it would be appropriate for these people to be housed as tenants in the home they have surrendered and this must be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

The Keane report does not do anything for Shared Ownership. The Minister needs to step up to this growing crisis and put a strategy in place to help those in trouble who only sought to put a roof over their heads. They were failed by the previous government who denied them sustainable housing and destroyed the economy. We cannot see this failure repeated.”

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Subsidising toll operators is an outrage

Sinn Féin Transport spokesperson, Dessie Ellis TD, has called again on the Minister for Transport to examine ending the payment of subsidies to operators that have seen decreases in traffic through their tolls.

He made his comments in light of the report that €7 million, a greater amount than in previous years, has been paid to the operator of the Limerick Tunnel and M3.

Deputy Ellis continued:

“This is an example of the disaster that has been Public Private Partnership. The state entered into deals that meant, on top of tolls, if traffic numbers fell, toll operators would be subsidised. I have called for a halt to this practice on a number of occasions. These deals were entered into by a corrupt and negligent government and we cannot sustain them.

“The minister has agreed deals such as these must never happen again, but he must do something to call a halt to this massive waste of public money which is seriously needed. It is an outrage that hospitals beds are closing and €7 million, an increase on last year, is being spent subsidising a company paid handsomely for a job they continue to charge motorists for daily.

“If it is not profitable for these private companies to collect tolls then the state should have no role in supporting them to continue.”