[Sinn Fein]

14th November 2001

Radical action needed to tackle housing crisis

Sinn Fein Councillor Seán Crowe speaking at the launch of the party's pre-budget submission said that the government's failure to take radical action to solve the housing crisis was their biggest single failure over the past four years.

Cllr. Crowe said:

``The gross inequalities in our society are most clearly visible when it comes to housing. At one end of the market you have multi millionaires competing for so called prestige properties, while people on average incomes are either crippled with huge mortgages, cannot afford a mortgage at all, or if they qualify, join the ever-growing local authority waiting lists. And then you have the growing numbers of homeless in our towns, villages and cities.

``We have been in the depths of a housing crisis since this government came into office. Since 1996 the number on local authority waiting lists has risen by 43%, house prices in the private market increased by an average of 15% in 2000 and people in private rented accommodation face poor living conditions, high rents and no proper security of tenure. It is incredible that the report of the Commission on the Private Rented Sector presented more than 12 months ago has yet to be acted on.

``We believe that Budget 2002 should bring forward major state investment in a comprehensive social housing programme, with front loading of funding under the National Development Plan to allow local authorities to house people. ``We should also major changes to current practice including:

* immediate setting of a target of 70% of applicants to be provided with suitable accommodation within two years

* control the price of land zoned for housing to end speculation

* statutory control of rents in the private rented sector

``But whatever measures are announced in Budget 2000 it will not make up for four years of failure and neglect by this government on the housing crisis. In the coming months as we face into a general election and the record of this government is examined, it's biggest single failure will be its refusal to take the radical measures needed to house our people.''

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