‘When will the Minister treat this housing emergency like it is an emergency and a crisis, and bring everything to bear to deal with it?’
That was the question posed by Louth TD Ruairí Ó Murchú during a Sinn Féin motion on the €1 billion underspend in the Department of Housing.
The Dundalk TD took aim at Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien and highlighted how houses seeking tenants in the town are now at ‘unheard of’ levels of rent.
Deputy Ó Murchú said: ‘The Minister can talk about all the issues that there are from Covid right through to inflation rates and all the rest of it. We all accept that but let us be absolutely clear that the buck stops with the Minister as regards delivering for the people. It is a matter of doing it.
‘I looked at daft.ie and I noticed it listed 15 houses in Dundalk, which is probably considerably more than the last time I looked.
‘It made me feel somewhat hopeful. Then I looked at the prices: €1,650; €1,900; €1,950; and €2,200 for a three-bedroom house in the environs of Dundalk, which was unheard of before.
‘This is a rent pressure zone. None of this is working in any shape or form. We really need to see delivery’.
And during questions to Tanáiste Micheál Martin in the Dáil last week, Deputy Ó Murchú sought clarity on the tenant in situ scheme where local authorities can buy houses where tenants are facing eviction.
He said: ‘The eviction ban has been lifted. I do not believe a sufficient number of solutions or services are in play.
‘I have talked to Louth County Council homeless services; they have reinforced this in my head. My question relates to the tenant in situ scheme.
‘Louth County Council is at this point processing a number above the actual target it has. My fear is that it will not have the resources if more come into play and it will not be able to deal with this quickly enough.
‘I know resources have been put into the Department, but can it be ensured that there will be sufficient resources to deliver on this and people are not taken from other necessary services within the council?’
In response, the Tanáiste said: ‘The housing minister is clear that additional resources will be provided to councils in the event of their going above their targets.
‘He is not providing strict limits in respect of the number of houses that can be bought with tenants in situ to prevent people from being evicted. Louth County Council can, therefore, exceed the target’.