Sunday 18 November 2018

Pressure on Kelly to help families facing eviction

Environment minister Alan Kelly. Photo:
Environment minister Alan Kelly. Photo:

Barry Lennon

Environment Minister Alan Kelly has come under pressure from Dublin politicians who believe his department can help more than 60 renting families facing eviction.

Residents in Cruise Park, Tyrrelstown, were told they would be forced to leave their homes after their housing estate was bought by a so-called vulture fund.

However, Mr Kelly's department said it could not help these families find houses as it is a provider of "policy, not housing". A department spokesman instead pointed to local authorities as the provider of housing.

Fianna Fáil's Jack Chambers suggested Mr Kelly could lead the way as he gives funding to councils to build such houses.

"This caretaker government hasn't prioritised public housing enough," he said.

"They turned the tap on capital investment for building houses over the past few years.

"The Department of the Environment should act because they provide funding for construction."

Anti-Austerity Alliance's Ruth Coppinger agreed with Mr Chambers, suggesting the State could buy the homes from the fund.

She proposed an "affordable-mortgage scheme" whereby residents could then buy back the houses from the State.

"Why wouldn't they (the State) buy the houses? I don't know how much these homes cost but they're not expensive houses," she said.

"There is a real worry here. There soon won't be hotels left to put people in. We could literally have tent city in Dublin West."

Homeless charities have called on government departments to tackle the vulture funds - investment funds which buy up undervalued assets.

"These funds are legal. But the Department of Finance needs to come in here to advise on best practice," said Niamh Randall of the Simon Community.

Ms Randall advised following the Private Rented Tenancies Board code of conduct, which aims to protect tenants. "Never mind the stress, trauma and devastation that goes with someone losing a home, putting up homeless families in hotels is not cost-effective," she said.

Irish Independent

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