The housing and homelessness crisis is the “defining issue for this generation”, with nearly 10,000 people homeless; home ownership at its lowest in 50 years; while thousands are caught “in a trap” with “sky-high rents” and insecure tenure.
This is the view of Labour Galway West candidate, Cllr Niall McNelis, who was speaking at the launch of Labour’s plans to solve the housing crisis and homelessness. He pointed out that in Galway city, rents rose by 5.9 per cent to €1,299 per month in the last year, and described it as “not sustainable or realistic” for people on modest or even average incomes.
He said the Labour plan marked a “new approach”, as it proposes to, over a five year period, build 80,000 social and affordable homes to buy and rent on public land. The party will also “immediately” freeze rents, and introduce rent caps for a limited period until the housing crisis is solved. “We want to make renting count and will move to ensure that rental payments and deposit savings are counted as part of credit ratings to help first-time buyers,” he said.
Labour will also re-introduce a Rent to Buy scheme through an affordable housing plan, in which a person with a tenancy for three years, who successfully pays all their rent, would see it turned into a deposit for the property that they will then go on to own. “Labour wants to make renting more secure, and we’ll bring in long-term leases with rent certainty and stop unfair evictions,” said Cllr McNelis.
To make renting more secure, the party bring in long-term leases with rent certainty and stop unfair evictions. The party will also introduce a Deposit Protection Scheme and NCT-style inspection of rental properties.
“We also want to strengthen the Housing First approach to end the homeless crisis, by moving people into long-term homes with whatever ongoing support they need with other issues, so that they can maintain their tenancies,” said Cllr McNelis.
“Too many people are struggling to pay high rents, or simply can’t find an affordable place to live. Adults are having to live with their parents, people are spending too much time commuting, and even those in good jobs are struggling to save a deposit to buy their own home.”