[Sinn Fein]

8th July 2002

Reports on housing worrying but not surprising

Sinn Fein spokesperson on the Environment, Arthur Morgan TD has described reports by the Society of St Vincent de Paul and Focus Ireland on the availability of social housing as ``worrying but not entirely surprising''. Deputy Morgan made his comments after the Society said that local councils were not enforcing measures to ensure that all new housing developments meet a 20% social and affordable housing target and that local authority waiting lists had grown by 35% according to Focus Ireland in the last three years. Deputy Morgan said:

``These reports bear out what many have witnessed with their own eyes. While it is worrying it is not entirely surprising. It is obvious that local authorities for whatever reasons have being ignoring the guidelines set down be government to ensure that social and affordable housing is made available. There is a massive housing crisis in this state and local authorities and indeed property developers cannot escape their responsibilities. We have the ridiculous situation whereby property developers are buying up former council houses at inflated prices with a view to offering them back to the council as an alternative to making available social and affordable housing in new developments. This carrot and stick approach is only fuelling the crisis further and is not in reality providing any extra housing stock. The crisis is further compounded when you have councils who are only building a minimum number of new units being forced to enter the bidding game for the few properties that are available thereby forcing the prices further out of the reach of ordinary people. It's a crazy situation that needs to be stopped.

``Local authorities have a duty to provide accommodation or at least ensure that affordable housing is available to those living within its borders. They must not allow themselves to be bullied by property developers or speculators. It's time they turned the tables and adopted a tougher attitude to those who are reluctant to play their part in making housing available to all.''

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