According to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Government’s Housing for All plan is a multi-annual, multi-billion-euro plan which will improve Ireland’s housing system and deliver more homes of all types for people with different housing needs. The overall objective of the plan is to enable every citizen in the State to have access to good quality homes by enabling them to purchase or rent at an affordable price. It is estimated that Ireland will need an average of 33,000 new homes each year from 2021 to 2030.
More specifically, the plan aims to build 90,000 new social homes, 36,000 new affordable purchase homes and 18,000 new cost rental homes along with 156,000 new homes being put on sale or for rent on the private market. The plan centres on 4 pathways including:
Supporting homeownership and increasing affordability.
Eradicating homelessness, increasing social housing delivery and supporting social inclusion.
Increasing new housing supply.
Addressing vacancy and efficient use of existing stock.
Speaking at the launch last Thursday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin praised what he described as “the most ambitious programme of social and affordable housing delivery in the history of the State”. He explained how the current housing crisis affects everyone and how solving the problem is “going to take hard work”. He is hopeful that the plan will act as a much-needed “direct and radical intervention”.
What FLAC thinks:
FLAC welcomes the aspirations to end homelessness and increase social and affordable housing in the Government’s Housing for All plan. However, FLAC is concerned that the plan is not properly based on human rights and equality standards.
The housing plan contains ambitious and much-needed commitments in relation to; the delivery of social housing; the eradication of homelessness; the implementation of the White Paper to End Direct Provision; and the implementation of the recommendations of the Expert Group Report on Traveller Accommodation. However, FLAC believes that the absence of a clearly articulated right to housing contributed to the emergence of the housing crisis, and any solution to the crisis must be founded in the principle of housing as a human right as required by our international human rights obligations.
FLAC Managing Solicitor Sinéad Lucey commented:
“FLAC’s work in recent years has been dominated by issues concerning housing and homelessness so we are very aware of its devastating effects on the most marginalised communities. The Housing for All plan aspires to eradicate homelessness and resolve the housing crisis. However, this potential can only be realised if the delivery of the plan is grounded on the principles of equality and human rights, including the right to respect for privacy and family life as protected by the Constitution. Delivering a housing system that is based on these principles must include legally enforceable minimum standards. The plan’s commitment to advance proposals on a referendum on housing and to ‘examine the potential for independent regulation of the social housing sector are therefore to be welcomed. However, the absence of commitments to provide minimum legislative standards in relation to emergency accommodation, Traveller accommodation and the system replacing Direct Provision is regrettable.”
Since March 2020, FLAC has operated a dedicated Traveller Legal Service (TLS). As noted in a recent submission to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Key Issues Affecting the Traveller Community, the majority of cases taken by the TLS concern accommodation issues. In an appearance before that Committee in July, TLS Solicitor Christopher McCann called for the urgent implementation of the recommendations of the Expert Group Report on Traveller Accommodation.
Traveller Legal Service Solicitor Christopher McCann commented today:
“Housing for All cannot live up to its name in the absence of an urgent overhaul of the current model for the delivery of Traveller accommodation, as recommended by the Expert Group Report on Traveller Accommodation. The housing plan contains a commitment to prioritise the implementation of some of the recommendations of the Expert Group. However, more than two years after the Expert Group published its recommendations, the plan contains no timeframe the implementation of those recommendations.
Legislation is urgently needed to reform the draconian powers of Local Authorities and An Garda Síochána to evict Traveller’s living on the roadside; to provide for minimum standards for Traveller accommodation, and to remove the power of elected members to vote down proposals for the delivery of Traveller accommodation.”
FLAC urges the Government to integrate human rights and equality standards into the implementation of the plan as required by the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty.
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Click here to read the full Housing for All plan.