Fianna Fail tells government to build more houses

The Government is being told there is no quick fix to the housing crisis but what we have got, is not working. Fianna Fáil's spokesperson for Dublin has said we are relying too heavily on the private rental market to solve the homeless crisis in Dublin and the national focus would be better placed on constructing more social housing. John Lahart has said despite regular announcements of funding the fact is, the figures are getting worse.

"One of the big issues is if you opt for the housing assistant payment, you're removed from the social housing list and you're put on the council transfer list," he said.

"What Fianna Fáil is proposing is actually, we just feel that it is completely unnecessary, all it does and all it serves to do is give the impression that the numbers seeking asocial housing is reduced."

 

courtesy Irish Examiner

Over 8,000 social houses to be built nationwide

Housing Minister Simon Coveney will today announce new plans to build 8,430 social housing amid criticism Government is failing to do enough to address surging waiting lists.

His department will publish detailed updates on the new builds at more than 500 developments nationwide as part of its Social Housing Construction Projects report.

The move, which is being backed by a previously announced €1.3bn budget for 2017, is part of Government plans to significantly increase social housing builds, promised after opposition criticism of slow progress on tackling the issue.

And while it has previously been claimed the Government built just 75 social houses in 2015, the Government hopes the planned new builds will alongside other projects help to address the burgeoning homelessness crisis.

Mr Coveney will state that 504 social housing schemes are currently being developed across the country, with 8,430 homes involved.

The units range from having capital investment approved, to being at on-site development stage, and include:

  • More than 800 new properties in Cork city and county;
  • 119 in Clare;
  • More than 500 in the four Dublin local authorities;
  • Almost 300 in Limerick city and county, among other areas.

The developments do not include a further 450 which are the subject of public private partnership funding; 2,300 voids which are being redeveloped; or others which are the subject of capital acquisitions by the State.

However, while the Government hopes that the initiative will, in conjunction with recently announced rent freeze and help-to-buy measures, reduce the homelessness and property price issues, it has repeatedly been criticised in recent months over its failure to tackle the issue.

Recent figures show that almost 100,000 people are on a housing waiting list .

This includes more than 40,000 in Dublin alone, with those awaiting homes in cities among the worst affected.

Last October, Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen claimed the Government has “failed drastically” to address the housing crisis, citing the fact just 75 local authority properties were built in 2015.

In response, Mr Coveney said he planned to increase Ireland’s existing social housing levels by up to 30% in the next five years as part of a wide-ranging national construction strategy.

“We have a raft of measures to bring vacant properties back into use, and we have tripled the ambition of the rapid-build programme initiated by the last government,” said Mr Coveney.

“That is why, this year, we will have significantly more homeless families and individuals housed in sustainable tenancies than last year, despite the directive being in force at that time.”

courtesy of the Irish Examiner

Lack of social housing and childcare keeping single parent families in poverty

Childcare costs and the lack of social housing need to be addressed to help lone parent families, according to the Children's Rights Alliance. New figures show an increase in the number of lone parent families who are in consistent poverty. It also shows 36% of single parents are at risk of poverty. Tanya Ward, CEO of the Children's Rights Alliance, says a number of things need to be done. "Access to the labour market is one of the key ways you can get yourself out of poverty," she said. "Because of the lack of affordable quality childcare a lot of lone parents have been very affected by that. "The other thing that is very stark for lone parent families is the lack of social housing."

President Michael D Higgins has called for increase in social housing

President Michael D Higgins has called for an increase in social housing to help tackle the homeless crisis in Ireland.

Close to 7,000 people are in emergency accommodation and President Higgins believes that it’s imperative that the State increase social housing to help put a roof over people’s heads.

He said: “When I was a young councillor, I was elected first in 1974 to Galway County Council, local authorities were building houses.

“The State centrally and the State locally has to come back into the picture in a very strong way as a responsible housing manager.

“You equally have to say, as well that, you cannot rely on solving this problem as a residue of the private market.”

Speaking to the Irish Daily Mail, President Higgins said : “The great news now is, one, that consciousness has increased – the second is the willingness of volunteers to come forward… and the generosity of the people.

“Lurking in the background is the idea of… If you are asked to make a choice between what are near absolute rights of property that are being claimed and the immediate necessary rights of people to live, I think people are trying their best.

“But you need to be able to sort this out and say, ‘You need lots of social housing.’”

Touching on the 1916 Centenary celebrations, Higgins reflected on how people have been inspired into action around the country.

He said: “The other side of it is, in 2016, 100 years after the Rising.

“Michael Collins once spoke about walking down the streets of Dublin when it was free, but the point about it is, walking around Dublin that is being prepared for dereliction so that vulture funds can lean on the planning system is something we have to have a long think about.

“I think at the end of 2016, let’s look at the good news.

“Consciousness is raised, proposals are being put forward and good people are trying their best so 2017 can be a great year if we solve this problem that’s here for us at home.

“It’s not just in Dublin but in cities throughout Ireland.”

Courtesy of buzz.ie

From a mansion in Abu Dhabi to homeless in Dublin

Annette Tobin (64), originally from Howth, Co Dublin, once lived a mansion in Abu Dhabi with six bathrooms.

Following the death of her husband, Noel, last year she ended up homeless in Dublin.

Noel’s career as a specialist welder brought them to the Middle East, Congoand Nigeria over a 20-year period. They returned to Dublin in 1999, opting to rent privately.

In 2013 they moved into a“lovely two-bed apartment” in Killester for which they paid €1,200 a month. Though they had no private pension provision, they had savings and Noel continued working.

Early last year, however, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He died in August, aged 63

 

The money stopped,” says Annette. “We had savings, but by Easter this year I had to go. I was getting just the State pension.”

Rent increase

Asked whether she could get rent allowance, she says her landlord would not accept it and planned to increase the rent. “ My only option was to go homeless.”

She registered at the Dublin homeless person’s unit on Parkgate Street and applied for older person’s social housing.

To avoid sleeping in an emergency hostel, she stayed with her son until emergency housing was available.

“He has three children. He and his wife were very welcoming but there was no space really. I spent two months sleeping on a mattress on the floor in my granddaughter’s bedroom,” she says. “I was on anti-depressants. It was a lot to cope with.”

Annette says the older people’s charity Alone saved her life by providing emergency housing in Ballybough in May. “It was old and hard to heat but I was only there during the summer.”

Studio apartment

She remained on the older person’s housing list with Dublin City Council and was offered a studio apartment in Donnycarney in October, for which €25.40 a week is deducted from her pension.

“I jumped at it,” she says. “It’s lovely. I have my own front door, a walk-in kitchen and a balcony.”

Asked about the contrast between the luxury of her ex-pat life and the experience of losing her husband and home in quick succession, she says she counts herself “so lucky - I was never in a hostel on the streets”.

“I wouldn’t like to be back in the private rented sector again though. I’d be very worried I’d end up in the same situation again.”

Courtesy of the Irish Times

 

We need to provide homes for people with disabilities

WHEN YOU LIVE with a disability, you value the independence that you have, so when you find yourself relying on people in every day situations, it can become incredibly frustrating, clouding your decisions to visit new places or to try new things.

While access for wheelchair users and disabled people has been a legal requirement for any public buildings constructed since the Building Regulations Acts 2000, there are so many ways in which the needs of approximately 18% of the population are still being ignored.

As a wheelchair user and the creator of Legless in Dublin, my perspective leans more towards the needs of wheelchair users but once you have access on the brain, you soon realise that disabled facilities for all disabled people are often an afterthought and, as a result, are poorly designed and poorly promoted.

Lack of accessible housing puts a stop to independent lives

While access and inclusion are becoming priorities as music festivals expand and the number of new restaurants and bars opening across the city increases, there are even bigger issues at hand, like the lack of accessible private or social housing, that restrict disabled people from living fully independent lives.

According to the results of 2013’s Triennial Housing Needs Assessment, 4,000 disabled people are on waiting lists for social housing, making them the single largest group with a specific housing need.

With the entire country in a housing crisis, the limited amount of accessible houses with the correct facilities means that disabled people are left relying on their families for accommodation or living in unsuitable houses.

This alone is a huge cause of concern for the mental health of wheelchair users, delaying the rite of passage from young person to adult as a first time renter or first time buyer, and infringing on opportunities to move to a different county or closer to places of employment.

As we wait on the results of this year’s study, expected to arrive in early 2017, councils across the country have been setting up Disability Steering Groups over the last 18 months to help implement the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability.

The steering groups include representatives from the councils, the HSE, voluntary housing associations and disability representative groups and their aim is to create strategic plans that mirror that National Strategy but to also highlight specific housing needs of those registered on their local council’s social housing list.

The smallest obstacle can throw your day off course

Because the number of accessible houses available is so limited,  the Irish Wheelchair Association encourages its members to register for social housing, even if it is not immediately required, through their Operation Sign Up campaign to shorten the waiting period for a house. We always need to plan ahead; that’s part of the package when you’re disabled.

Outside of the home, if you use a wheelchair, the smallest obstacle can throw your day off course, with unreliable train services, inaccessible buildings, broken lifts, lack of disabled parking in built up areas or poorly paved footpaths all playing a role.

If anything like that was to happen to a non-disabled person, it would delay them for a few minutes until they come up with an alternative plan. If you have a disability, there is rarely an Option B and, unfortunately, that’s the situation wheelchair users often find ourselves in. Without an Option B, we are stranded, stuck or desperately late.

When this happens, it means that we are left entirely in the hands of somebody else to help out and when you cherish your independence the way that we do, that always feels like defeat.

You keep a sharp eye on the ground

There’s a level of self-management that comes into play when you are in a wheelchair. You observe your surroundings and take note of the access facilities for future reference and you keep a sharp eye on the ground, taking note of uneven and broken pathways.

We have a detailed store of knowledge about our hometowns that would make any councillor blush. Everywhere we go requires planning, often exhausting our patience, so when things go wrong, like being on a waiting list for a house for an extra year or the lift in your train station breaking down for the second time in a month, our frustration can go two ways; anger or action. Personally, I prefer action.

How to help

The needs of wheelchair users are varied and thanks to the IWA, which has 20,000 registered members and 57 day centres dotted around the country, they provide a number of services and facilities, like driving tuition schools and accessible bus services, that assist with and encourage independent living.

By purchasing an Angel pin, your money will help improve and increase the services provided to IWA members because the cities and towns that we live in have yet to catch up with the pace that we’re setting.

While things are getting better in some ways, our independence status changes everyday depending on what goes on around us, making the services that the IWA provide invaluable.

Access isn’t just about putting in a ramp, it’s about our independence and that’s what we need to remember.

courtesy of the Journal

€18m pledged for social housing project in O'Devaney Gardens, Dublin

Nearly €18m has been pledged to provide social housing in Dublin's O'Devaney Gardens, which has been left undeveloped since the collapse of a private partnership deal eight years ago.

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney who visited the site today with Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe said he regarded O'Devaney Gardens as the most important development in the country.

The money will provide 56 social housing units on part of the site by 2018.

It is part of a wider development for O'Devaney Gardens and a site nearby on Infirmary Road that will see 634 mixed tenure homes built.

It is part of the new arrangement between Dublin City Council and the private sector called the Land Initiative, which has been agreed by a majority of city councillors.

A developer will be selected to construct an agreed masterplan on public land with the council being paid back in either cash or infrastructure or subsidised housing.

The housing will be 50% private, 30% social and 20% affordable rental.

Another site in Coolock called the Oscar Traynor site will provide 640 homes, while St Michael's Estate in Inchicore will see the development of 422 houses.

A total of 1,496 homes are due to be completed under the scheme within four years.

Courtesy of RTE

Rebuilding Ireland: Action plan for the housing and homelessness

Rebuilding Ireland is an action-driven plan that will result in a dramatic increase in the delivery of homes nationwide. Ambitious and inventive in its reach, and radical in its approach, this significant Government priority will deal with the under supply of housing and the effect it has on people and communities. 

This video illustrates the scope and spread of the plan through a number of tangible actions. Using a Five-Pillar approach, Rebuilding Ireland will address the needs of homeless people and families in emergency accommodation, accelerate the provision of social housing, deliver more housing, utilise vacant homes and improve the rental sector.
Courtsey of rebuilding Ireland

Stand off in Ballyfermot

Residents in Cherry Orchard have vowed to stop builders from starting construction on social housing in a park this morning.

Locals in Ballyfermot have protested against the building of the 72 social houses, which they saw would destroy a community garden.

It is understood a standoff is ongoing between the council and gardai as residents protest at the site.

A resident told Dublin Live: "At the moment on Blackditch road there is a standoff between residents, council and garda over the proposed building of affordable housing on the land adjacent to Cherry Orchard Church."

In 2008, a housing co-operative was granted planning permission to build on the land, but those plans fell apart when the economy crashed.

Since then residents have come together to form the Stone Soup Project, and have created a community garden to combat anti-social behaviour.

The community garden includes a grotto and around 100 trees have been planted as memorials to local people who have died.

courtesy of Dublin live

    The Homelessness crisis.

    Number of adult individuals who have accessed homeless accommodation since January 2014

    Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 11.56.10.png

    There were 4,006 adults accommodated in emergency accommodation during the third quarter of 2016. This is the largest number of adults accommodated in a quarter to date.  Of these, one adult in six (17%; 668) were new presentations assessed as homeless and placed in emergency accommodation. The remaining 83% (3,338) were repeat or existing service users.  Capacity has increased each quarter to accommodate additional demand for emergency accommodation.  The number of adults with children has increased from 939 in December 2015 to 1,357 in September 2016 while the number of adults without accompanying children has remained in the region of 1,600 for the previous three quarters.

    Courtesy of homelessdublin.ie/homeless-figures

     

    Only 75 local Authority houses were built in 2015 making it the worst on record

    FIGURES RELEASED by the Department of the Environment show that local authorities built just 75 social housing units during the whole of 2015 – the lowest on the official record, which dates back to 1970.

    The figures show that between October and December, local authorities across Ireland built an additional 47 units on top of the 28 constructed between January and September.

    Over the course of 2015, voluntary housing associations built 401 social housing units. The combined total of 476 makes last year the worst for social housing construction in Ireland, in official departmental records, dating back to 1970.