The Campaign for Public Housing is not looking for concessions or for tweaks to the existing housing policy. The state’s housing policy has been designed to fill the pockets of landlords, developers and financiers with rents, subsidies, and tax breaks, as it was designed to do. That strategy is clearly working.
This is the way the state is run in the interests of the business class—not of the people. It must be completely dismantled and changed, transformed into a system where every citizen has a right to a decent, secure home, available for rent from the state, as part of the social contract between citizen and state.
The main demands of the campaign are:
- universally accessible public housing available to all citizens as a right;
- a tenants’ bill of rights, to protect tenants, control rents, and provide security of tenure;
- a ban on economic evictions until the state can supply all citizens with a publicly owned home to rent;
- a referendum to put a right to public housing in the Constitution of Ireland.
These homes could be designed, built and fitted out by a state-owned building company and the local authorities, reducing costs by up to a half and ensuring that homes are built to a decent, safe standard—unlike the shoddy, unsafe, tiny homes such as Priory Hall and Longboat Quay built by the private sector. In addition, this would help bring to an end the precarious nature of employment in the building industry and the widespread use of bogus self-employment in the industry.
State-led public house-building would break the monopoly of the private sector on the building of houses and end the artificial shortages in available properties, as the private sector manipulates the supply of available properties in order for prices and rents to rise and in turn, of course, their profits, which is their only reason for building homes.
The housing crisis, coupled with growing homelessness, despair, and death, enables speculators to increase profits and income, as the state will pay the same group of property-owners millions in rent to house our people in hotels, B&Bs and hostels to deal with the emergency accommodation needs required because of their artificial crisis.
What is different about the Campaign for Public Housing and previous public-housing developments is that homes are to be made universally available to all who choose to avail of them, as a right, regardless of income. Existing public housing policy has led to a concentration of low-income families occupying these developments, thereby allowing the mass media to stigmatise the families living in public housing and the ghettoisation of areas, with citizens who were abandoned by the state in huge estates with few facilities.
The CPH will be campaigning for at least 60 per cent of all families living in public housing as income restrictions are removed, which will end the stigma and the mistakes made in the past.
Reverse the policy of encouraging citizens to buy their council houses. Encourage home-owners to sell their houses to the public housing pool, which at the end of their life would be rented to another family as publicly owned property.
We need to transform housing policy from where a home is seen as a commodity on which to make a profit into a citizen’s right to have a home supplied by the state.
If the profit element is removed from 60 per cent of all homes, this will have a devastating effect on the profits of property speculators, developers, and builders, as property values will fall and then stabilise. It will end the gravy train of rent subsidies for hoteliers, landlords, and developers, as no more emergency accommodation will be required, because homelessness will be a thing of the past. This would lead to an end to most private rented accommodation, ending the precarious nature of shelter as it exists today.
The biggest losers if a major public housing-building programme is undertaken would be the Golden Circle who finance the establishment political parties. Working people need to understand the interconnected relations between the state, establishment political parties, and the powerful economic forces that control their lives. Workers need to understand who really runs the Government and whose interests it serves. The answer is one and the same: Big Business, the capitalist class.
We are many; they are few. The housing crisis will never end if it’s left up to the establishment. We urge people to join with us and become part of the solution, that is, the Campaign for Public Housing.
■ E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org