Social Housing Update
The Government spin on the provision of Social Housing is frightening while at the same time it presides over the most fundamental change in social housing provision since the foundation of the state.
In Galway City, the number of applicants on the housing waiting list has continued to rise and the relevant figures have been furnished to City Councillors in quarterly reports each and every year without fail.
The most recent Housing Quarterly report dated the 30th June was the shortest report on record because the Housing Officials confirmed that there has been no change since the Housing Quarterly Report dated the 31st March 2015 (when the number of households on the waiting list was confirmed at 4,041 with another 370 households in the County but looking to live in the City giving a total figure of 4,411. In addition there were 76 further housing applications under consideration)
– except – that the waiting list figure had risen substantially again with 4, 475 households actually on the waiting list and not counting those awaiting assessment! Remember that figure refers to households and therefore at a conservative estimate there are 15,000 people on the waiting list with the two bed-roomed list going back to 2000!
In addition while it was confirmed that the number on the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and Longer Term Leasing (LTL)had gone up to 600 tenancies the officials said that the ‘City Council are challenged to maintain this number at 600 tenancies’
Why? Because landlords were either pulling out from the schemes with the consequent results that families had to go into homeless accommodation and/or landlords were refusing to sign up to the schemes.
Moreover and significantly the housing waiting list had increased by 670 households in just one year since March 2014 and the total number of social housing units to be built was confirmed at 14!
Notwithstanding all of the above, the fundamental Government Housing Policy is not only to rely on the failed private market to supply homes for our people but to make direct rent payments to landlords under the new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and on such payment to remove the housing applicant from the housing waiting list!
With a stroke of a pen and without discussion this government has not only abdicated its responsibility to provide social housing but in addition has done away with a an applicant’s right to social housing.
Press Release: 8th September 2015 Councillor Catherine Connolly.
FG/Labour Policy on Housing Provision is not only deepening the Housing Crisis in Galway where more than 15,000 people are waiting for a home and the figure continues to rise but Government policy of utterly relying on the free market is scandalous and worsening the situation.
Unfortunately for applicants on the Galway Housing waiting list said Cllr Connolly, the Spin from government continues while the housing waiting list continues to spiral upwards and City Council Housing Staff are stretched to capacity trying to deal with the escalating homeless crisis as landlords for one reason or another pull out of and/or refuse to participate in the Rental Accommodation Schemes (RAS) and the Long Term Leasing Scheme (LTL)said Cllr Connolly. The most recent housing quarterly report at the end of June confirmed that the number of households on the waiting list continued to rise with the current figure at that point at 4, 474 households which at a conservative estimate means approximately 15,000 people waiting for a home.
Of these housing applicants said Cllr Connolly, some particularly on the 2 bed roomed list are waiting for up to fifteen years to be allocated a two bed roomed house/apartment
Moreover said Cllr Connolly this figure does not include those applicants who are on a Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and or a long term leasing scheme and whose names have now been removed from the waiting list as they are considered adequately housed.
In this category at the last housing report the number given was 591 households and of that 472 households were in the RAS scheme and 117 households were on the long term leasing scheme.
Notwithstanding the magnitude of the crisis however only 14 housing units are under construction this year and not another euro has been forthcoming to the City Council from the Government notwithstanding the fanfare of the government’s announcement last November of a 3.8 billion social housing strategy up to 2020 and a further announcement in April 15 that 1.5 billion euro of this sum would be invested in a combination building, buying and leasing- not a single extra euro has been given to Galway City Council.
Ironically said Cllr Connolly the last announcement was made on April Fool’s day 2015 and unfortunately the Government continues not only to mislead but is actively contributing to a new housing bubble.
More particularly said Cllr Connolly and despite protestations to the contrary, the government has now coffer fastened the policy of relying on the private sector by the introduction of what will be known as the ‘Housing Assistance Payment’ or HAP to replace the RAS and Long Term Leasing schemes and a payment that fundamentally changes housing policy.
This scheme is currently being rolled out in all local authorities and will mean that as a matter of housing policy any tenant renting a private house and receiving this payment will be considered adequately housed and their name removed from the housing waiting list.
In reality what has happened said Cllr Connolly with simply a stroke of a pen, without any discussion and under the pretence and illusion of providing social housing, a housing applicant’s right to a local authority house has been removed.
Given this fundamental change in government policy together with the magnitude of the demand for social housing in Galway it is inevitable said Cllr Connolly that the HAP scheme will actively ensure that rents in Galway will continue to skyrocket. Furthermore and equally worrying is that there will be absolutely no long term security of tenure for tenants.
Councillor Connolly said these concerns have also been outlined by the National Economic and Social Council in their paper dated July 2014 and entitled ‘Review of Irish Social and Affordable Provision’
Without a doubt said Cllr Connolly FG/Labour housing policy is not only directly deepening the housing crisis but their policy is absolutely scandalous. What is required as a matter of urgency is a social housing construction programme over the next five years so that the supply of housing comes from both the public and private sector.