The Wicklow Sinn Féin General Election candidate and County Councillor John Brady has said that the government’s plans to build just 50 social housing units in Wicklow this year are very disappointing given the scale of the crisis and at the current government pace it will take over 70 years to clear the social housing list in the County. He made his comments following the announcement by Minister Alan Kelly that an average of just 100 million euro will be spent building council houses over the next 3 years despite record homelessness numbers and severe housing need.
Cllr Brady said "These figures are scandalous and the Minister expects people to congratulate this government, it’s an embarrassment and very frustrating when you are working with homeless families and people struggling to keep the roof over their heads. In Wicklow we have over 3566 families on the housing waiting list and since Christmas over 70 families have presented themselves as homeless to the council in Wicklow. At this current rate it will take over 70 years to clear the current social housing list which already has families waiting for over 12 years to get a house.”
“The Government spends nearly half a billion subsidising the private market every year, in Wicklow that figure is over €30 million. Many families are being made homeless because the private market can get higher rents than either Rent Supplement or the Rental Accommodation Schemes (RAS) are giving. We have had over homeless families here in Wicklow since Christmas and many of them are still in emergency accommodation, but this government will only build 50 homes in the County this year. This is simply not good enough.”
Brady continued “We need to be moving back to building thousands of social housing units every year. Until then we are not doing nearly enough to tackle the crisis. Building 30 houses in Dunlavin and 20 in Rathdrum are welcome but fall well short of what’s needed to try tackle the crisis.”
“Instead over the next three years the government intends to plough a further 1.2 billion euro into subsidising private landlords while it builds a meager 1700 homes through local authorities. The councils are best placed to tackle this crisis and housing shortage and should be at the forefront of the solution.
“The government must refocus on funding the construction and refurbishment of council homes. The homes that are needed will not be found on the private market, where developers operating as landlords are making handsome sums in extortionate rents due to the shortage of rental properties.
Cllr Brady concluded “Sinn Féin has called for this refocus for a long time as well as an immediate 1 billion investment of additional fund from the Strategic Investment Fund which would build at least 5400 homes. We also need rent controls now to stop the flow of renters into emergency accommodation right now. Social housing construction through local authorities is the only solution to our housing crisis."