Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Cavan-Monaghan Cllr. Niamh Smyth says the Government’s refusal to consider increasing rent allowance for families at risk of losing their homes is typical of Fine Gael’s attitude to the escalating housing crisis. The Government continues to set out reheated plans that have still not delivered an adequate solution to the problem while refusing to take on board suggestions from the opposition.
Cllr. Smyth commented, “This Government has completely failed to take charge of the housing issue, and because of a lack of concrete measures, this problem has now turned into a national emergency. The problem spans across a number of sectors – home ownership, rental, social housing and emergency accommodation. The fact of the matter is that there is a serious lack of supply, as a direct result of Fine Gael’s lack of investment in the area.
“Between 2007-2010, Fianna Fáil built 354 social housing units across Cavan and Monaghan. In stark contrast, Fine Gael and Labour all but halted the social housing programme, building a mere 87 units in the two counties between 2011 and the end of 2014. This has led to a surge of people languishing on the social housing list with 1,146 people housing list in Cavan and another 1,311 in Monaghan, according to the most recent figures.
“There is now a dramatic shortage of supply, which in turn is forcing up rents in the private sector. This Government has spent the past year scrambling to come up with a plan, but their rehashed ideas are simply not delivering.
“We have a credible, multi-faceted approach to address this crisis. We will build 45,000 social houses by substantially increasing exchequer funding and ring-fencing it specifically for this use. We will also introduce a help-to-buy scheme for new home owners.
“The Taoiseach’s refusal to increase rent supplement makes no sense. In fact, the decision to maintain the existing thresholds is perpetuating the mindless situation whereby families are being placed in emergency hotel accommodation at an enormous cost to the State, rather than allowing them a marginal increase in rent support. Fianna Fáil would increase the rent supplement to help these families stay in their homes.
“This Government’s record on housing and homelessness is appalling, and the fact that it is still refusing to implement measures which would ease the crisis speaks volumes about where its priorities are. Fianna Fáil wants to see all sections of society looked after – not just the wealthiest. Our proposals will help the most vulnerable, they’ll ensure that families can stay in their homes and are not forced into hotels and they will create a sustainable housing plan that will increase social housing units so that families have affordable options open to them”.