Government housing policy is ‘failing everyone’ particularly those who are reliant on renting, where there were just eight properties in Dundalk available online, Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú has told the Dáil.
The Dundalk TD was speaking during a Sinn Féin private members’ motion on the Raise the Roof housing campaign.
Deputy Ó Murchú set out the statistics during his speech. He said: ‘There has been a 15% increase in rents, a 22% increase in house prices and a 19% increase in homelessness.
‘Looking Across Louth, there are 18 houses for rent. In Dundalk, the figure is nine.
‘A number of my party’s councillors on a day-to-day basis are engaging with people and trying to find solutions.
‘Of course, we use everything available, including the housing assistance payment, HAP. We are waiting for the 35% (additional HAP top up payment) and the other changes, that the Minister is talking about, to happen as soon as possible because that will get us some time until this fixes but we know we are all operating in a dysfunctional system that will not get any better until we deal with the supply issue.
‘It is getting worse. Every time we deal with these issues, more people come to us. People who never would have come in with regard to housing issues are now coming in. They are finding themselves in absolutely dreadful situations’.
The Sinn Féin TD said he was particularly worried about the fact there are no repayment plans in HAP.
He said: ‘I have spoken specifically to the Minister about anomalies in relation to HAP and how people who should be able to get a payment cannot get it. We need to introduce some element of flexibility or we will only put more people into homelessness’.
The ‘basics’, Deputy Ó Murchú said, must be done right. He said: ‘We must protect renters. We did some of these pieces of work during the pandemic. It is not beyond the realm of possibility to do so again.
‘We know that we will only do real business when the State engages fully and we look at figures, such as the need to deliver at least 20,000 social and affordable homes per year, including cost rental. The fact is, if one talks to Mr. Tom Parlon and others from the Construction Industry Federation, they say they are solution-focused if they have targets that they will do all in their power to deliver.
‘It cannot be beyond the realm of possibility to do what has been done previously. We have no choice. We must deliver because we are failing everybody’.