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Public housing campaign launched that will take 'water charges-style' approach

The Campaign for Public Housing wants a new system of universally accessible public housing.

Image: RollingNews.ie

A NEW CAMPAIGN has been launched to demand the creation of a new universally accessible public housing system, in the hope that it will become “as big as the anti-water tax movement”.

The alliance of political organisations, elected representatives and homelessness groups believe a “water charges-style mass movement has the potential to force the government’s hand on housing”.

The Campaign for Public Housing is calling on a new system of universally accessible public housing. The system would be based on a cost rental model where the collective rent of tenants would fund the construction and maintenance of large volumes of new public housing.

Speaking on behalf of the campaign, of which his charity is involved in, Father Peter McVerry said: “Our campaign is united by a common belief that the private market has never, and can never, provide for the basic human right to housing.

We believe that only a large-scale system of building and procurement of public housing – which should be available for rent to anyone who needs it – is the only way to tackle the housing crisis.

Members of the alliance include the Peter McVerry Trust, Inner City Helping Homeless, the Workers’ Party, the Communist Party of Ireland, along with a number of TDs, councillors and local housing groups.

‘In our own public interest’

Speaking at the launch of the campaign Dublin city councillor Kieran Perry said that the basis of the campaign will be “to convince the ordinary person affected by the housing crisis and the homeless crisis to involve themselves and become active”.

“We believe that if we can activate enough people on the streets, in communities, that it will force the politicians to take heed and hopefully gain enough traction that will become as big as the anti-water tax movement,” Perry told reporters.

The campaign is also calling for a tenants bill of rights to protect tenants in the private rental sector, along with a referendum to legally enforce the “right to public housing” into the constitution.

Councillor Eilis Ryan condemned Dublin City Council for the standards for private developments in the capital.

“We set the minimum standards for private developments, but we also set the standards for Dublin City Council’s own builds,” Ryan said today.

“When we try to impose higher standards on private developments the line we constantly get back from the city managers is that ‘we can do it with our own housing but we can’t force them to do it’,” she said.

If we want higher quality it just makes an awful lot more sense to use the regulations that we have instead of spending money regulating the private sector in a way that’s constantly failing.

Poor social housing

Earlier this week, the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) found that Ireland has failed to uphold the human rights of a number of tenants living in inadequate local authority housing.

It found that the state was in breach of its international legal commitments under the European Social Charter.

The finding was made in relation to a complaint brought by the International Federation for Human Rights against Ireland on behalf of social housing tenants across 20 communities in 2014.

The FIDH said that the tenants were being forced to live in conditions that were in breach of international and European housing standards.

In this month’s Budget, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe increased the housing budget to €1.9 billion – a 46% increase on the previous year.

Donohoe said that a total of 3,800 new social houses will be built next year by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies.

The minister also announced an extra €500 million for a direct building programme from 2019 onwards, which he said would see an additional 3,000 new build social houses ready by 2021.

With reporting by Daragh Brophy

Read: Dublin’s housing sprawl outside the M50 will be ‘a huge issue’ in the future

More: Poor social housing conditions fail to uphold tenants’ human rights

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