The housing crisis is a major issue in Irish politics. It is a topic that many UCD students are passionate about and the current crisis is affecting students all over Ireland. Sinn Féin were not available for comment. We asked all the political parties on campus for their solutions to the problem, here’s what they said:
While the amount of housing being constructed is rising, we are not yet at acceptable levels. A dramatic increase in the supply of quality and affordable housing is vital for housing. Measures must be taken to help those currently in vulnerable positions while supply is being ramped up. We advocate an increase in funding in the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for the Capital Assistance Scheme. This will help provide homes for young people. Also, universities should be required to provide accommodation for at least 15% of their students. We would also propose a cap on student rent increases. Current proposals of an annual 3% rises will serve as a barrier to attending university. We support the re-introduction of a rental tax credit to assist working people earning less than €30,000 a year. Finally, height restrictions must also be reformed to at least 10 storeys all over the city.
In government, Fianna Fail’s central goal will be solving the housing crisis. We believe in home ownership and want to increase the rate of it. Over the 5 years of our government, 200,000 new homes would be built, including 50,000 social homes and 50,000 affordable homes. To help those renting to be able to save we would introduce measures such as a €600 tax credit and a national affordable rent scheme. History shows that Fianna Fáil is the best party to deal with this housing crisis, we are the party that built tens of thousands of social homes even through the worst economic hardships and we can and will do it again.
Labour’s housing policy is one of our five policy commitments that must be at the core of any agreement with other parties in the next Dáil. Labour will freeze rents until enough homes are built, to immediately alleviate the housing crisis. Labour will build 80,000 homes on public land over the next five years, using a fund of €16 billion from state reserves and other sources. Now that the state’s finances have recovered, there is no need to raise taxes to build homes, the government has enough money. Fine Gael has simply refused to allow direct homebuilding for ideological reasons. The homes that Labour will build will be energy-efficient and they will be built as part of well-planned neighbourhoods, with access to transport, schools and other services.
How we currently provide housing isn’t working, and the homeless crisis reflects that. The Green Party would provide public housing on public land through a national housing plan. They would implement the cost-rental model of housing, which would reduce the costs of renting while continuing to build new housing. The Housing Assistance payment would be reformed to invest in new social housing, rather than sourcing from the private sector. Vacant properties would be put back into use by implementing a Site Value Tax. Better protections for renters would allow them to live securely in good quality housing. Sustainability and community building should be at the heart of how we provide housing. This is done by community-led development, and developing in tandem with goods and services, rather than individual private developments.
People Before Profit Students condemn the decision of a number of college administrations to increase student rents on campus. Colleges are placing the burden of funding on students and staff. People Before Profit’s Student branches calls on all Students and political parties to support a broad, open and united front to fight back against these rent hikes that are squeezing working-class students out of Third Level Education in Ireland. These increases will compound the crisis. The emergence of extortionate, private student accommodation has allowed college authorities to charge more for campus rent, and they have jumped at the opportunity to follow suit. We should not only reverse the rent hike but also demand subsidies for disabled and disadvantaged students in need of affordable accommodation. We should fight for full tenancy rights for renters.
The Social Democrats believe that the core purpose of housing policy is to deliver affordable homes, not profit to developers. We must move away from the market-led model in order to tackle the current housing and homelessness crisis. That’s why we propose the state should build public housing on a major scale and cost-rental accommodation that is all well connected by reliable and frequent public transport. A vacant property tax ban on vulture funds and ensuring that only college campuses are allowed to build “student accommodation” would put an end to developers extracting huge profit from unnecessary “luxury” student accommodation. Build affordable homes.
Conor Paterson – Politics Editor