Fianna Fáil Group Leader on Dublin City Council Cllr Paul McAuliffe has said that Minister Kelly needs to be less sensitive towards constructive criticism of his housing strategy and instead listen to the concerns of those on the frontline dealing with the housing crisis. Cllr McAuliffe was responding to comments made by Fr Peter McVery where he said that the government policy on housing is “Alice in wonderland politics”.
Cllr McAuliffe commented, “While I commend the Minister for his efforts in implementing various short term measures to combat rough sleeping I remain concerned by the comments being made by those on the frontline of the housing crisis who say that demand for accommodation has not dropped. This points to a deeper structural problem that the Minister is failing to address.
“It is clear for all to see that the current rental market is dysfunctional and mostly made up of accidental landlords. The government has failed to roll out the Housing Assistance Payment that would greatly help to end the poverty trap of rent supplement.
“As long as we await a significant supply of social housing the government must ensure that Local Authorities and Housing Associations can produce accommodation from the private rental market. While this is not a long-term strategic solution it is the only way of providing homes in the very short term to those that need accommodation.
“The transition from the rent supplement to the Housing Assistance Payment must be an absolute priority for the Minister. Using rent supplement solely as an income support tool is leaving families to complete on their own in an already crowded rental market and is only making the crisis worse.
“The government promised to introduce the Housing Assistance Payment without delay yet to date we have only seen limited pilot programmes being put in place. The roll out of the Housing Assistance Payment must not be delayed any further.
“In 2011 the Government promised to reform the Rent supplement system by introducing the Housing Assistance Payment. However to date there have only been three pilot projects that have been put place and progress on the transfer has been chronically slow. The transition must be a top priority.
“The time has come for Minister Kelly to take on board the concerns that are being raised by those with first-hand experience of the housing crisis such as Fr. Peter McVerry and others” said Cllr McAuliffe.