The housing crisis

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland
3 May 2018

The Government strategy is working.
     The government has announced the extension of the government-backed mortgage scheme for first-time buyers. This will do nothing to solve the housing emergency; all this scheme does is facilitate the borrowing of up to 90 per cent of the value of a property maxed at €320,000 for couples earning less than €75,000 a year or for a single person earning less than €50,000.
     Clearly the Government’s strategy is working, leaving people with little option in relation to attaining a home, forcing them into long-term debt servitude to financial institutions. The only ones to benefit from this strategy are the developers, who make massive profits on these homes. It condemns low-income families to a lifetime of debt, stress, and poverty, with little left for the other necessities of life.
     Working on their figures, for a couple earning the maximum of €75,000, borrowing €320,000, their monthly mortgage repayments would amount to €1,555. With half the population earning less than €28,500 a year, these figures are fanciful and totally unaffordable by ordinary working families. The subsidising of mortgages will not solve the housing emergency, it will add to it.
     The building of public housing, universally accessible to all income earners, is the way forward. With rents linked to a percentage of income, it removes the debt burden from families and frees up more of their hard-earned income to spend on the other necessities of life. This stimulates the local economy as a side benefit.
     With the stress and uncertainty of debt removed, the well-being of society will benefit immensely. We do not need more subsidies for landlords, builders, speculators, or banks: what we need are decent, safe, secure homes for all our citizens as a right and as part of the social contract between citizen and state.
     The Government supports business at every hand’s turn through tax incentives, grants, income support payments, anti-trade-union legislation, and a plethora of schemes to assist businesses to avoid paying their contribution towards society, that, is to the people who create all their wealth.
     Between the government, NAMA and local authorities they have enough land to build 123,000 homes. This land is already zoned for housing. It needs to be built on straight away to provide public housing for our people.
     The politicians will tell us that this amount of housing cannot be built in a year. We only have to look back to the year 2007, when 90,000 units were built in one year by profit-hungry speculators; so it’s not beyond our ability to build these homes. Building public housing is not their priority, nor part of their strategy.
     What is becoming clearer to a growing section of the population is that the Government’s concerns are not about them. All evidence shows that the role of the Government is to provide the best business environment for lining the pockets of the native and foreign elite, Irish landlords and American vultures.

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