IMG_0561A year after Jonathan Corrie’s death, Government measures to tackle homelessness and housing emergency are misguided, half-baked and have utterly failed to address a daily worsening crisis

PBPA TD says Government refusal to take meaningful action on housing and homeless crisis is because it would upset landlords, property speculators and developers

Speaking at today’s housing and homelessness march commemorating the death of homeless man Johnathan Corrie, Richard Boyd Barrett TD has said a year after Mr Corrie’s death, government measures to tackle the homelessness and housing crisis have utterly failed and the crisis has continued to spiral out of control.

Deputy Boyd Barrett, who is involved in today’s protest and who has been warning of the growing housing crisis since entering the Dáil in 2011, described the government’s response to the crisis as “half-baked and misguided.” He said the government’s failure to address the crisis was not an accident but resulted from a refusal to enact any measures that might adversely impact on the interests of private developers, landlords, property speculators or banks.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said that only stringent rent controls, a ban on economic evictions, really significant increases in rent allowance and funding for homeless services, and a massive new programme of directly provided public housing, including large-scale acquisitions and the use of NAMA property could address the crisis.
He said the government were unwilling to take the necessary measures because of a fear of upsetting private sector interests.
Richard Boyd Barrett said: “A year after the tragic death of Johnathan Corrie, just yards away from the front of the Dáil, the government have utterly failed to address the homelessness and housing crisis. The number of families, children and individuals driven into homelessness has increased dramatically over that year and the length of housing lists have continued to spiral. The situation is totally disastrous.
The government’s approach to this crisis is completely half-baked and misguided – full of big announcements that signify nothing.
The government’s failure to deal with the crisis is not an accident. It is a result of the fact that the government is completely hostage to the interests of private developers, landlords, property speculators and banks. It suits all these profit driven interests that rents and property prices continue to rise and the government is completely unwilling to challenge these people. In fact, the government have been actively promoting the interests of a wealthy elite that are actually benefitting from the housing crisis. The interests of banks and property magnates are being put ahead of the needs of our citizens for a roof over their head.
What we need and need urgently is a complete ban on economic evictions, stringent rent controls, a major increase in rent allowance support and funding for homeless services, and a really massive emergency programme of directly provided public housing.
Despite, belated government claims and serial announcements that they are embarking on a major social housing programme, the detail of their plans reveal nothing of the sort. In reality, they are relying on the private market to deliver well over 80 percent of their housing 2020 targets. This is total fantasy and simply will not happen.

Any half serious analysis of the numbers joining lists and becoming homeless makes it clear that unless there is a radical change in policy, the housing and homelessness crisis will be worse again in a year’s time than it is now.
At every level the obstacle to dealing with this disastrous crisis is a refusal of the government to challenge market and profit driven priorities.
For example, the oft cited two years the government claim is needed to deliver new social houses arises largely because of the outsourcing and competitive tendering process for building the houses. If the councils directly employed the staff to design and build public housing, it would be much cheaper and far, far quicker. It is ideology and the determination to enrich private developers that prevents this from happening.
Equally, the government’s failure to introduce a meaningful regime of rent control and ban economic evictions is all about not wanting to “interfere with the market”, which in lay terms means interfering with the right of developers and landlords to make profits.

Unless we break from this slavish devotion to market and profit orientated interests, this disastrous crisis will continue to worsen.”