Fitzpatrick wants political unity to tackle housing crisis

Fitzpatrick wants political unity to tackle housing crisis

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick has appealed for all politicians in the Dail to come together and work towards solving the housing and homeless crisis.

“There is no quick fix solution and I strongly believe that this issue should not be used as a political football simply to score political points,” Deputy fitzpatrick said in the Dail last week.

“It is simply not acceptable that in 2016 we have families that are in emergency accommodation.

“A proper solution to the housing issue will need to address: home ownership; sustainable construction; social and affordable Housing; protection for renters and homelessness.

“We also need to work more closely with the people in local authorities who are at the coal face in dealing with these issues.

“I met this week with Denis McArdle who is the full time Housing Officer in Louth County “Council who gave me an update on the present state of affairs in county Louth.

“Here in Louth we have the Simon Community who have in total 25 beds available of which the council have an allocation of 14.

“The Gatehouse has a total of seven beds whilst Drogheda Homeless Aid has a capacity of 30 beds of which eight are allocated to Louth County Council.

In addition to those already mentioned the Council also has the exclusive use of three B&B’s in

Dundalk and five in Drogheda.

“I also note that 12 new units are due to come on stream in the Linenhall street area of Dundalk very soon.

“Louth County Council are also one of the few authorities who have a 24 hour contact number for people at risk of homelessness.

“Louth officially does not have any people sleeping rough or homeless which I believe is a result of the measures already mentioned and also the good work of people like Denis McArdle and Joe McGuinness the present Director of Services in Louth County Council.

It is quite clear from speaking with people like Denis McArdle and Joe McGuiness, people who

dealing head on with the housing and homelessness on a daily basis, that a workable and sustainable solution can be found if we can work together.

“For example a short term temporary solution could be to use private accommodation to replace the expensive B & B’s and hotels. Not only would this prove a more cost effective solution but also provide a better living standard for the families involved. In terms of money it is estimated that this measure alone could save approximately €2,750 per family per month.

Another measure that we could investigate is a system whereby families could be encouraged or maybe incentivised to re-house family members who have found themselves in the unfortunate position of been homeless.

“I am sure that members from all sides of the house will have further ideas on the housing issue and I for one would welcome an opportunity to sit down and discuss them because if it meant that we could improve the situation thereby improving the lives of our constituents then it is incumbent on us to act now.

“Solutions to the housing crisis can only be solutions if they: Prevent homelessness; Eliminate the need to sleep rough; Eliminate the need for long term occupation of emergency accommodation; Provide long term housing solutions; Ensure effective services,” Deputy Fitzpatrick said.

He said Fine Gael wants to deliver 110,000 social housing units by 2020

To increase tax relief for landlords who accept rent supplement and HAP tenants; To provide protection of renters; introduce a Deposit Retention Scheme to be operational by 2017;

Increase the relevant notice period for compliant tenants in the event of a rent increase or a lease termination; streamline the powers of the Private Residential Tenancies Board;

Support the concept of home ownership through the tenant purchase scheme to social housing tenants.

He said fine Gael also want to improve the availability of finance for new home construction with a €500m joint venture to finance the building of 11,000 new homes through the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.

They also want to tackle the hoarding of land by developers by introducing a vacant site levy on serviced land in urban areas and streamline the local planning process with a “use it” or “lose it” planning permissions.

The party also intends to amend the planning guidelines with respect to student accommodation to support the construction of on-campus or near-campus purpose built student accommodation.