Order of Business: Wednesday, 22 April 2015
Senator Zappone debated issues related to rent affordability in the Seanad on Wednesday, 22 April 2015. Rising rent in Dublin and other big cities in Ireland has become very problematic as rent prices are rising faster than people's incomes. The Senator expressed the urgency of dealing with these issues as almost 1,000 children are homeless and living in emergency accomodation in Dublin alone. The Senator stresses the importance of finding a long-term solution in her speach.
Read Senator Zappone's full speech below:
It sounds like a great place to visit. I have a question for the Leader that relates to the affordability issues in the housing market. As colleagues are aware, rents are rising in Dublin and other major cities faster than people's incomes. Over the past months we have seen how this is putting pressure on tenants and the knock-on effect of this includes a rise in homelessness. We are seeing the households with least resources being pushed out of the market.
The latest official figures, reported in yesterday's edition of The Irish Times, show that almost 1,000 children are homeless and living in emergency accommodation in Dublin. Private sector rents in Dublin have increased on average by 7% for housing and by almost 11% for apartments over the past year. The number of children becoming homeless has been steadily rising every month since last June. A significant percentage of them are children of lone parents. I raised this issue of one parent family supports with the Minister for Social Protection in this Chamber last week. Many Senators expressed their concerns about the welfare of children of lone parents in light of the deprivation rates among these families. Senator van Turnhout and I suggested that the Department of Social Protection should investigate the access to adequate housing as part of its ongoing review for one parent family policies. I hope that proposal is followed through.
I am sure colleagues are aware the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Kelly, was cited in today's edition of The Irish Times as saying that his proposals regarding temporary accommodation for homeless families have been rejected by Dublin city councillors as the councillors want a more long-term solution. The long-term solution is a functioning rental market, in which rent affordability can be guaranteed, due to adequate supply and appropriate regulation. The housing strategy by itself will not alleviate the immediate problem of unaffordable rent increases with instant effect. We cannot wait for the recovery to deliver a desired, sustainable rented sector in three to four years times. The most vulnerable in our society need help to remain in their homes right now. When the Minister of State with responsibility for housing debated these issues of affordability with us in February, he indicated that he is considering all options for achieving greater rent certainty and stability in the current market. Will the Leader provide us with an update on any plans to address the affordability issue in the private rented sector?