Read our new housing policy document Homes For All: Towards a Public Housing Revolution
The Workers’ Party believes that access to affordable, quality housing is a basic right, but public housing is the only way to guarantee that right.
Over the last number of decades, housing provision in Ireland has been almost completely privatised – public housing and land have been sold off and private landlords are now paid billions of euro every year to provide public housing through schemes like the Housing Assistance Payment.
Privatisation has lead to the appalling housing and homelessness crisis facing ordinary people in Ireland today with little or no construction of public housing, exorbitant rent levels and the cost of buying a house skyrocketing beyond the reach of the majority.
Solidarity Housing – Public Housing For All
The Workers’ Party believes that universal public housing provision – public housing for all – is the alternative. Our public housing policy, Solidarity Housing, is a costed plan for mixed-income public housing construction on a scale that could solve the crisis facing Ireland today. It would provide affordable and quality public housing accessible to all, with rent levels based on income.
Solidarity Housing requires local councils, or the state, to set up a new State Housing Corporation. This State Housing Corporation could borrow ‘off-books’ against the assets it owns – i.e. public land, to finance housing construction. In this way it could raise enough finance to build as many as 75,000 public housing units across Ireland in the next five years.
Solidarity Housing is based on housing provision in cities like Vienna, where 60% of citizens live in mixed-income public housing and which have the highest quality of life in Europe. It is a simple, costed and public alternative to the chaos of the private housing market, to rack-renting by private landlords and to greedy developers. It is a solution that works for those who cannot afford to buy, those who struggle to afford their rent and all those who struggle to keep a roof over their heads.
See how much rent you’d pay under the Solidarity Housing model:
Read more about Solidarity Housing:
How it works: Solidarity Housing: Getting the Vultures out of Irish Housing
How it’s financed: Solidarity Housing: Financial Aspects of a Solution to the Irish Housing Crisis
The Workers’ Party is committed to:
- Large scale construction of mixed-income public housing through a state construction company and direct labour schemes based on the Solidarity Housing model of public housing for all.
- Allocating the necessary resources to local authorities for an immediate and substantial programme of public housing construction.
- Establishing housing as a basic and essential human right. Without access to suitable housing the supposed rights to family life, to healthcare, and to education are empty.
- Ensuring that planning should provide the transport links, childcare facilities, local amenities, and stability that allows for vibrant and inclusive communities.
- Strictly controlling the price of building land. For almost five decades successive governments have refused to implement the recommendation of the Kenny Report.
- Guaranteeing that all housing built must reach the highest international building standards.
- Strengthening and enforcing the Derelict Sites Act so as to stop dereliction and speed up the regeneration of brownfield sites.
- Implementing a windfall tax on all profits from land rezoning.
- Ending the privatisation of public housing.
- Supporting local, non-profit, cooperative, self-build, own-use housing initiatives.
- Ending all property related tax incentives as these have proven to be economically disastrous for this country.
The Private Rented Sector
Rent levels have long reached crisis point in the private rented sector. Thousands of individuals and families are being forced into this market by the refusal of successive governments to invest in public housing and by the policy of the deliberate sell-off and run down of local authority housing stocks. The Workers’ Party believes that individuals and families in the private rented sector are entitled to decent living conditions, fair rent, protection against exorbitant rent increases, security of tenure, and protection of deposits against illegal or unjust deductions.
The Workers’ Party would:
- Introduce legislation to properly control rents. This would apply not only to rent increases within tenancies but also between tenancies and set out clear guidelines by which rent levels can be established. This must be accompanied by legislation to ensure security of tenure for tenants whose properties are being sold.
- End the subsidy to private landlords by the phasing out of rent supplement and Housing Assistance Payment and its replacement by local authority owned housing.
- Implement a comprehensive package of measures to ensure that tenants in private rented accommodation have fair rents, security of tenure, decent standards and conditions.
- Immediately legally implement deposit protection by ensuring that all deposits are held by an independent body like the PTRB in an independent and self-financing fund.