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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020
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Housing Bill dismissed as a 'ridiculous ploy' to make the government 'look better'

Tamara Kearns, who is homeless, said the new legislation does not deal with a number of key issues including rent control.

Tamara Kearns and her 1-year-old son Paul
Tamara Kearns and her 1-year-old son Paul
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

A HOMELESS MOTHER has said that the Housing Bill set to be passed in the Dáil is an attempt to make the government “look better” without bringing about any real change.

Tamara Kearns, who is living in emergency housing with her husband and two children, said that people in receipt of the new Housing Assistance Payment will be deemed as housed and taken off the social housing list.

She said the government is “trying to slash the 90,000 waiting list and make it look better for themselves”.

“My family became homeless because my husband’s wages were cut and we could not meet the spiralling rents in Dublin,” Kearns said.

She is a member of the Housing Action Group who have called for rent controls to be introduced. The organisation will stage a protest outside the Dáil at 6pm today. The Bill will be debated in the chamber from 6 to 7.30 pm and 9 to 10.30 pm.

A number of other TDs have also called for the Labour Party to reconsider its support for the Housing Bill with independent TD Catherine Murphy saying last week:

This is a seminal moment for social housing in this country and if Labour allows this Bill to pass they have completely abandoned any pretence of social justice.

‘A ridiculous ploy’

Gwen Connell was homeless earlier this year but is currently living in a two-bedroom apartment with her three daughters. She said she was also evicted from her home due to rent hikes.

Connell said the Bill is “just another ridiculous ploy by Labour and the government to reduce council lists”.

It’s just tactics when nothing is really being done about the situation.”

Connell added that the new HAP system means “people like myself can be thrown off council waiting lists”.

“We will be passed over to private landlords where we can be evicted at any time and can never truly settle,” she said, adding: “Families don’t need to be put through this.”

Utter failure

Socialist TD Ruth Coppinger said that the Bill will “further decimate the Labour party” and “accelerate their extinction” as the party holds both the departments of social protection and housing.

“It will completely and utterly fail. Have they learnt nothing?”

Coppinger noted that 4,000 – 9,000 social houses were built annually during the 1970s, compared to just 300 last year.

“The big big problem is people have nowhere to live.”

The newly-elected Dublin West TD said that the new legislation also “makes it easier for councils to evict people” and allows housing authorities to deduct money from people’s social welfare payments if they fall behind in paying their rent.

Nobody should be allowed to be evicted on the basis of a rent increase given the homeless epidemic.

“I do question whether the government have leant anything from the hammering they got in the election,” she added.

Related: New campaign launched to help families in danger of losing their home

Read: Social housing waiting list falls to almost 90,000 households

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Órla Ryan

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