By Finghín Kelly
The realities of “recovery” Ireland is in sharp contrast to the official propaganda we are daily fed. Nowhere is this more obvious than when we look at the housing crisis.
Last month the Courts Service revealed that 586 repossession orders were granted by the courts in the first three months of this year. This represents a 600% increase in just one year!
The vast majority of the repossession orders relate to owner occupied homes. Approximately 20% are for buy-to-let mortgages, the form of mortgage preferred by private landlords.
The number of buy-to-let mortgages in arrears is at a crisis level. This is seeing people in rented housing being faced with banks taking their homes from their landlords and then moving to evict in order to sell the property or to jack-up the rent.
When the banks were questioned on this policy in the Dáil Finance Committee by Paul Murphy TD, they all answered that it was their policy to evict tenants as soon as possible after repossessing a property. This includes the banks that are state owned and in receipt of massive bailouts from the tax payer.
Banks are clearly profiteering on the increasing property prices and moving to repossess properties while prices are up.
Bankers’ profit while homelessness rises
Anyone walking the streets of any town in the country will be able to testify to the reality of the housing crisis; homelessness. In March there were 411 families, including 911 children in emergency accommodation in Dublin, up 220 in the last year! Housing charity, Focus Ireland, reported that 71 families became homeless in Dublin City in April, a new record!
The government have made much of their €3.8bn plan to tackle the housing crisis. In reality this is no more than a sticking plaster over a gaping wound. They promise just 35,000 new houses, this is despite over 90,000 families on council waiting lists; up 227% since 1996. There is very little actual house building envisaged as part of the plan. Most of the housing promised will come from relying on private landlords. This will just see more wealth being transferred to landlords and result in the displacing of other people in the private rented sector.
To really tackle the housing crisis we need fundamental change. The policy of gearing housing policy to enrich the private landlords, the banks and the speculators must end. We need rent controls and more rights to tenants but we also need a massive plan of public investment to build homes in order to provide affordable housing for all.