Dublin City Councillors joined activists today to highlight boarded up homes around the city while over 3,000 are now in temporary accommodation in the capital.
The #Right2Housing campaign is a network of organisations and individuals campaigning for a meaningful response from government to the homeless and housing crisis.
We caught up with these activists in Dublin 8, a stone’s throw from Christchurch cathedral.
Cllr Bríd Smith of People Before Profit:
“There are about 20,000 empty properties in Dublin City and we want to see these taken over, refurbished occupied by families and individuals who are desperate for somewhere to live.”
Regarding the refugee crisis Cllr Smith made the point that it’s important that housing planning takes this into account:
“There is a knee-jerk reaction, and it’s not an illogical one but it’s not correct either, from people who say ‘we can’t look after our own so why are we taking in others’ but I think these things have to be combined. The fight for the resources to house people has to be combined with the fight to look after refugees.”
Vacant properties are not only in private ownership. The activists visited Council owned properties on Thomas St that are both boarded up and for sale.
If you go to any estate there are ‘voids’ – council houses boarded up with metal shutters that the Council pay for on a rental basis to keep them unoccupied.
Cllr Tina McVeigh expanded on the problem of ‘voids’ and other vacant homes:
“The council will tell you that the ‘voids’ have been allocated to families on the housing list but they’re still sitting empty because the turn around time is so slow. The bureaucracy of actually drawing down the money, and the Deutsche Bank report refers to this, our litigation processes, probate, liquidation processes, the council’s own bureaucracy and the interdepartment environment – the report said it would take 43yrs to fill the 240,000 empty homes.
What are the activists demanding be done?
We called on Minister Kelly to call a national emergency on housing. The point of this would be twofold – it would allow lots of emergency legislation, for instance fast-tracking litigation, probate etc. But more importantly it would allow for Government to make once off spends on addressing the emergency. If we consider housing an emergency issue that once off borrow would not be part of the structural deficit.”
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