On a number of occasions, I have raised with the Minister and the Taoiseach the fact that my constituency of Dublin Bay North has the largest number of people on social housing waiting lists. In September, three families became homeless every day nationally. Week in, week out, I meet families with children who are sofa surfing and living in very overcrowded accommodation. A total of 35,000 people are living in such accommodation. Almost 10,000 more are homeless and living in emergency accommodation, hubs, hotels and guesthouses. There are also people sleeping in their cars or trying to do so as the weather begins to turn. What kind of hope can somebody like me give those families as we approach the Christmas period, particularly people in the offer zone, that the situation will be expedited? Has the Minister any plans to drastically improve the delivery of social housing in Dublin?
Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: I listened carefully today to the speeches of the Minister and the Taoiseach on housing. I note the Taoiseach talked about this new housing initiative and dramatic moves that we could take. Of course, it has to be asked why we did not end homelessness in the 31st Dáil and why we did not proceed with fairly dramatic attempts to increase the supply of social housing. That is an unanswerable question. It is related to the disastrous economic policies which were followed over the past five years by the Fine Gael-Labour Government.
Deputy Broughan will today call on the newly elected TDs to establish an All-Party Forum on Housing and Homelessness to ensure that action is being taken on the worsening housing emergency while negotiations are underway to form a Government. Almost 20 years ago, Deputy Broughan first proposed a full Department of Housing and is today echoing the leading homeless charities’ call for a dedicated senior Minister for Housing with a seat at Cabinet.
Tommy Broughan has today expressed shock and outrage at confirmation that during 2015 just 9 persons/families were housed in Dublin City Council’s (DCC) new build apartments (7) and new build houses (2). Tommy Broughan received a breakdown of figures from DCC on the number of housing lettings during 2015 and the number of transfer lettings during the same time period per DCC Area. Just 149 persons/families were housed in Tommy Broughan’s Constituency of Dublin Bay North which comprises Area B, with 149 housed and 43 transfer lettings; the vast majority of these numbers are related to senior citizen units (49 housed and 18 transfers).
We on the northside of Dublin have seen very few of the new units to which the Minister of State referred. Reference was made earlier to the 3,600 individuals on the Wexford housing list. We have almost double that number in Dublin Bay North. Among the 750 families in emergency accommodation are 1,600 children. The Minister has published the draft planning and development (urgent social housing supply) policy directive 2015, which deal with section 179 of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2015 and Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 to 2015. Why was that not done 18 months ago?
Yesterday I sent out a press release giving my thoughts on the much-heralded modular housing units. Concerns have been expressed by constituents that temporary modular units might be left in situ for several decades as happened in the past. Now I have been informed by Dublin City Manager, Owen Keegan, that modular housing is here to stay – perhaps for up to 6 decades.
Last night, the first five locations for Dublin City Council’s modular housing units were announced. Unsurprisingly, all five locations are in working class communities where I’m sure families experiencing homelessness will be welcomed. 40 units are to be constructed in Finglas, 38 units in my own constituency in Belcamp, 29 units in Crumlin, 24 in Ballyfermot and 22 in Ballymun. There first 22 are expected to be located in Ballymun and in place by the 21st of December. The Belcamp Avenue open space, of course, had detailed plans for the construction of real houses for local families on our huge Dublin Bay North housing lists.
I warmly support the motion before the House and thank my Sinn Féin colleagues for giving me a chance to speak briefly on it. I would like to pay my respects to Alan Murphy, his family and friends. Last Friday, Alan died not very far from where we sit tonight. It is another tragic loss of life which can be put down completely to the failures of this Government and the Fianna Fáil Governments in their total abandonment of social housing programmes.
Deputy Broughan again strongly criticised the Government for their handling of the housing and homeless crisis during his speech today in Dáil Éireann on the Urban Regeneration and Housing Bill 2015 saying that while he welcomes some action, finally, that it will not go very far anytime soon in attempting to solve our worsening housing and homeless problem.
Deputy Tommy Broughan has today expressed his absolute shock and disgust at the continued inaction by Enda Kenny, Alan Kelly and their Government on the homeless crisis which is currently wreaking havoc on Irish families and children. Today, Friday the 24th of April there are 65 families awaiting placement in emergency homeless accommodation between the 4 local authorities. Last week figures released showed a 55% increase in the number of homeless families in the past year meaning that despite their continued attempts to blame an ‘inherited’ problem, the Fine Gael/Labour Government have no choice but to take responsibility for this crisis.