Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has said that it clear that the housing crisis is the most acute issue affecting Irish people and this Fine Gael government, with the support of Fianna Fáil, are worsening the crisis and directly causing increased child and family homelessness.
The Sinn Féin TD attended the recent the Raise the Roof rally in Dublin city centre and marched alongside thousands of others to protest the government’s failing housing policy which is deepening the housing crisis.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“The unprecedented housing crisis in this state has been caused by a series of failures of public policy – a failure to cap rents, a failure to build social housing, and a failure to implement an effective vacant homes strategy.
“The government has not just failed in its duty to provide adequate housing to all citizens, it has actively promoted the financialisation of housing by laying down the welcome mat for foreign vulture funds, and then granting them a light-touch regulatory framework and special tax treatment.
“In March, the UN special rapporteur issued an absolutely scathing letter reprimanding the Irish government for its policies that have actively encouraged the financialisation of the real estate sector, which has directly caused the extreme rise in homelessness we have witnessed.
“Specifically, the UN points to cuts to the public housing budget, and land hoarding by investors who deliberately restrict supply in order to inflate rent and prices. The UN authors single out three specific policies that have caused the financialisation of housing in Ireland, including the establishment of NAMA, the promotion of REITs from 2013 onwards, and the sale by the state-controlled banks of non-performing loans to US vulture funds.
“Sinn Féin is demanding a three-year rental freeze, a rent tax relief, and a massive social housing building programme as the preliminary steps in solving this crisis. We want to see banks taxed and effectively regulated, and the vulture funds kept at bay.”
“The UN has accused the Irish government of being in breach of its international obligation under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to ensure the right to adequate housing to everyone. It further accuses the government of breaching the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which declares that states must protect people against human rights abuses by business enterprises within their jurisdiction.
“Last week, Sinn Féin called for a fundamental step-change in the government’s approach to housing the people of this state by having a referendum on enshrining the right to housing in our Constitution. In the Eighth Report of the Convention on the Constitution on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights over 80% of the participants agreed that such a right should be enshrined in the Constitution.
“The Mercy Law Centre has three separate reports calling for it and recently the Ombudsman for Children’s Office called for the right to be progressed as a matter of priority. This is not a radical idea. The Right to Housing is included in eighty-one Constitutions across the world.
“Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil voted against the Sinn Féin Bill to create this important referendum. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s refusal to support this measure is disappointing, but not surprising. The fact that they would refuse to even let people have their say on it in a referendum is unacceptable.
“A legal right to a home is not a silver bullet, but it would provide a basic floor of protection and governments would have to take this right into account when putting forward policies.”