Note: In the blog post one paragraph misquotes Garrett. This is how the paragraph should read: “There was a threefold system in Ireland to deal with ‘unmarried mothers’ – the Church-run Mother and Baby homes forming one part, but a greater number of women were resident in the County Homes and Magdalen Asylums – the former was local authority-run and over which the Church did not have any say.”
Social Work Action Network (SWAN) Ireland is an organisation whose main aim is to create a space where social workers, social care workers, students, service users, carers, academics and members of the public can come together, equally and collectively, to campaign for a fairer society. We are also part of an international network.
The Social Work Action Network Ireland is hugely concerned about the disastrous effects the new proposed Housing Bill could have on the marginalised and disenfranchised communities that we work with on a daily basis.
Section 37 of the bill is worrying in it’s potential consequences. It advises that the new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) to replace rent allowance, “shall be deemed to be an appropriate form of social housing support for a household…” Therefore, once someone is on rent allowance and is transferred to the HAP, they will be classed as being in “social housing” (while living in private rented accommodation). This section of the bill allows the government to say that they are providing social housing for people while not physically building or providing any long-term social or local authority housing. This section also has the consequence of misleadingly shortening the extensive housing lists around the country over night as people are considered adequately housed by the local authority.
This bill appears to be disingenuous and is not an adequate response to the current housing crisis in Ireland. Instead of fudging numbers on a page and moving responsibility for rent allowance from one government department to another, SWAN Ireland suggests that it would be more sensible for the government to begin to address the crisis in a meaningful way by following the suggestions of Housing Action Now:
- End chaos in the private rented sector through measures such as rent controls,
- End the mortgage crisis through measures such as moratoriums on evictions from properties that are the principle family residence,
- Provide social housing through measures such as building new houses,
- Address issues regarding Traveller specific accommodation such as ensuring local authorities are forced to support Traveller specific accommodation (Source: https://housingactionireland.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/housing_action_now_long_edit.pdf).
SWAN Ireland encourages all it’s supporters to meet at Dáil Eireann tomorrow, June 17th at 6pm to protest the introduction of this bill.
Please see the following groups for more information:
Housing Action Facebook Page, Housing Action Now Facebook Page, Housing Action Now WordPress Site, Social Work Action Network Ireland Facebook page and WordPress site.
From the Housing Action Now website: “A housing bubble. Not enough supply. Not enough credit. We hear so much about the housing market, but for the majority of us the reality is an ongoing housing crisis. At the heart of this crisis is the government’s failure to create a housing policy that guarantees everyone’s access to a home. The market-based policies of debt-fuelled home ownership have not only failed – they have undermined the right to housing for hundreds of thousands across Ireland.
So begins our manifesto for the right to housing, which we will be launching on Thursday June 12th at 6pm in the teachers club. More details here: https://housingactionireland.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/were-launching-our-housing-manifesto/ .
The manifesto has been developed to provide a snapshot of the housing crisis and present solutions in a an accessible format. We hope it will help to bring together all those who believe housing is something that none of us can live without or should have to live with out.
You can download the full version here: https://housingactionireland.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/housing_action_now_long_edit.pdf. We’ve also prepared a shorter version for sharing online, which you can download here: https://housingactionireland.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/housing_action_now_short_withlink.pdf.”