Saturday 24 August 2019

Emily Duffy: 'Time politicians pledged to provide safe homes for our people'

  

Emily Duffy
Emily Duffy

Emily Duffy

When it comes to meeting the housing needs of the people, it's fair to say the Government is out of touch.

An opinion poll published in this newspaper this week showed 94pc support for direct investment in public housing. Another generation of young people like me is facing eviction, rent hikes and almost constant uncertainty and anxiety about the roof over our heads.

Meanwhile, the building of affordable public rental housing moves at a snail's pace. Public money is haemorrhaged in 'Housing Assistance Payment' that pays private landlords to meet our public housing needs. A flood of evictions from the private rental sector continues unchecked, while developers and landholders sit on empty property that could be turned into family homes.

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That's why our people-powered community, Uplift, decided to crowdsource a vision for the future.

Some 3,000 people from all walks of life shared the effect their situations have on their lives and the lives of loved ones.

We assembled a panel of experts to analyse the information and come up with solid, practicable solutions. Now, we're asking candidates in the local and European elections to pledge to back these solutions ahead of May 24.

The stories we gathered were harrowing, especially those about relationships and families destroyed by terrible housing and the terror of the threat of homelessness.

The reality of not having a stable home has on the mental health of families and especially children were hard to read.

It is difficult to accept this could be happening in Ireland in 2019.

People who have decent and secure housing were also extremely worried about their children and grandchildren's prospects.

While there's a generation gap when it comes to who's affected by this housing crisis, it's clear most of us have a loved one who is struggling.

To reach workable solutions, we also need to listen to stories that provide hope, from people who've managed to get a secure publicly owned home. People spoke about the effect having a stable house had on their lives and their loved ones.

One story that really touched me was from a member of our advisory panel, Aisling Hedderman from North Dublin Bay Housing Crisis Community. After years of renting privately, she finally secured her family home through Dublin City Council.

She says: "Our lives have changed, we no longer live in fear of eviction, we feel secure in our home knowing we will not have to move. We have placed roots down in our community where our children can make friends and enjoy the local facilities.

"Our rent is linked to our income, meaning the differential rate helps us save and enjoy the fruits of our labour."

Finally, she adds: "We have a life worth living."

It's stories like these that the decision makers at local, national and European levels need to hear when designing solutions. I think in their hearts, they know what they need to do.

So next week, ahead of the elections, we're asking them to pledge to build public housing that's owned by all of us; properly tax people who sit on vacant homes and land; make private renting more secure through banning evictions for sale and renovation; and to support the needs of marginalised communities - particularly migrants, the Traveller community and those of us with disabilities.

You can check which of your local candidates have signed the pledge and contact those who have yet to sign up by visiting this web page:

https://action.uplift.ie/campaigns/peoples-housing-plan-local

And finally, if you're a politician reading this, I urge you to read and sign the pledge - and then get to work building the flourishing Ireland we all need and deserve.

Emily Duffy is the deputy director of Uplift, a campaigning community of more than 215,000 people

Irish Independent

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