People Before Profit will use its private member’s time in the Dáil this week to debate a motion to accelerate the passage of the party’s eviction ban Bill.
Launching the motion at an event at Buswells Hotel in Dublin, PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the Bill would reinstate an eviction ban “as long as we continue in a housing emergency”.
He added: “We warned, as did many in the opposition, that when the Government lifted the emergency temporary ban, that we thought the situation would get worse.
“And indeed it has got a hell of a lot worse. And in the last six months or so the situation has got far, far worse, with, as people know, 12,847 people in homeless accommodation, almost 4,000 children.”
Mr Boyd Barrett said eviction bans would not solve the problem and also called for an increase in building of social and affordable housing.
Community Action Tenants Union (CATU) organiser Helen Moynihan said the union would support another eviction ban.
She said: “It’s a landlord’s market and it’s very easy for them to use loopholes. So, there’s really an imbalance of power here in the country and that’s why CATU exists to give tenants a little bit more power and autonomy.”
Also in attendance was James O’Toole, one of the residents facing eviction from the Tathony House apartment block in Dublin since October last year.
Mr O’Toole said: “It is one whole year of stress and the Government keeps repeating that you can’t build houses overnight. Granted, you can’t build houses overnight, but with the stroke of a pen that could ban no-fault eviction.”
Speaking at the same event, homelessness campaigner Fr Peter McVerry said he would like to see an amendment that exempted landlords experiencing financial difficulty due to a no-fault eviction ban so that families like those in Tathony House could be “spared from this nightmare”.
Asked about this proposal, Mr Boyd Barrett said the position of the Government should be that nobody should be homeless.
He said: “It is very rare, let’s be honest, for a landlord to end up homeless, but of course if it is a prospect of somebody ending up homeless, regardless of who they are there should be something done about it.
“And there should be an absolute imperative for the Government to ensure nobody does end up homeless. But that’s not what’s going on. The Government are essentially washing their hands and saying ‘We’re not doing any more on this front’.”
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said the Government will miss its targets for affordable and social homes this year.
Mr Ó Broin was reacting to the Department of Housing’s figures on the delivery of social and affordable homes for the first half of the year which were published on Friday.
The department said the delivery of social and affordable housing in Ireland remains on track to “exceed last year’s impressive gains”.
It said that 2,298 social homes were delivered in the first half of the year through build, acquisition and leasing and 1,290 affordable homes were delivered, including cost-rental and affordable purchase homes via approved housing bodies, local authorities and the Land Development Agency and through the First Home Scheme.
The department added: “Including housing assistance payments and the Rental Accommodation Scheme, 7,234 social housing solutions were delivered in H1 2023.
“There is a strong pipeline of over 22,600 social homes either on site or at various stages of design and procurement.”
It also said that a significant proportion of delivery occurs in Q4.
However, speaking to reporters outside Leinster House on Monday, Mr Ó Broin said the Government’s delivery of affordable housing was “appallingly low” and “taking too long”.
He added: “The affordable housing report tells us that there was just 101 affordable purchase homes delivered by local authorities in the first six months of this year, just 22 cost-rental units, delivered by affordable housing bodies in the first half of this year and not a single affordable home delivered by the Land Development Agency during that period of time.”
Mr Ó Broin said the Government had only met 15 per cent of its new-build social housing target halfway through the year.
He said: “The consequence of the failure of Government to meet their own – albeit modest – targets is to be seen almost everywhere.
“The reason why more and more young people are being forced to live at home in their 20s and 30s is because the Government is failing to deliver affordable homes.
“The reason why an ever-growing number of young people with education and job opportunities, or even good jobs are leaving the country is because Government is failing to deliver genuinely affordable homes.
“The reason why we’ve seen between the two census a dramatic increase in the number of people over the age of 55 in an expensive and insecure private rental sector is because the Government is failing to deliver an adequate volume of affordable homes.
“And the reason why homelessness has reached record highs is because people can’t get out of emergency accommodation because Government isn’t delivering an adequate supply of social homes.”
Mr Ó Broin also said the figures for this year should have been released quarterly.
Elsewhere, Labour leader Ivana Bacik said an REA report showing that the average price of a three-bed semi-detached house nationally has breached 300,000 euros for the first time since 2007 showed that Fianna Fáil “appears utterly incapable of producing an adequate supply of affordable homes”.