Citizens’ agenda
Local elections 2019
 

There is a chronic shortage of social and affordable homes in Ireland. I would push Dublin City Council to start building homes as they did previously in the '70s. One of the factors preventing DCC from being able to build land is the zoning laws. Greenfield sites zoned for housing development are extraordinarily high in Ireland, and far above what the council can afford to offer. There are 1,000s of brownfield sites across Dublin lying vacant and derelict. These must be levied into sale or use. The only type of housing development is developer-led. The current requirements for social housing in such development is too low. This figure should be brought up significantly. We need housing to be provided by the council, housing associations and private developers, not just the latter.

 

The cost of renting a home in Dublin is preventing a whole generation to get on the property ladder, and the money we’re handing over to landlords is money we’re not spending in the local economy. The tax on rental income is in the region of 52 percent. While there is a housing crisis it is abhorrent that government would collect tax at that rate from people struggling to make payment. Rental tax needs to be substantially reduced to bring the cost for renters down.

I would push for 10-year leases, with proper protections for renters, with inflation-linked rent reviews, which could be determined by the Central Bank. I would fight for a cost-rental housing model, successfully used in many other European countries, where the state would build houses to rent. These houses should remain in state ownership.

Short-term rentals let on Airbnb to tourists are choking the supply of available accommodation in Dublin. While new measures have been brought in I would call on DCC to develop a new body, the Dublin Housing Agency, to manage renting in the city to ensure there is compliance with the law and to set targets to drive rental prices down. This role would involve the review of rental market, inspection of rental properties, provide a register of rental property rates (to ensure rent cap compliance) and license and manage short term-lets.

 

The fact that there are approximately 10,000 homeless people in Ireland and 3,700 children is a national disgrace. I would look at new ways Dublin City Council could access funding from the EU in order to start building cost rental and social housing.

The lack of supply at a time of economic growth results in every available home in Dublin being rented at exorbitant rates. Meanwhile, the government is paying millions to provide homeless people with temporary accommodation in hotels. The Dublin Housing Agency I am proposing would be set up to help renters, and one element of the agency's work would be to work with communities living in social housing to maximise room usage through voluntary inter-complex rotation, where communities could be maintained but where needs for families (e.g. more rooms) and the elderly (e.g. ground-floor dwelling) are met through house swaps.

On the point of homelessness itself, we have a desperate need to reform the way homeless hostel are being managed. I would fight to change the booking system, which is of great stress to homeless people. People should absolutely be able to book accommodation for more than one night at a time and the booking system should be managed in such a way that is practicable for the people using the services. People who are homeless should be given the maximum dignity that can be achieved while they are homeless and there should be easy access to free sanitary, contraceptive and hygiene products and access to washing facilities.

 

We have the data on derelict and vacant properties and sites in Dublin. The numbers are staggering. At present it appears all to easy for landowners to allow otherwise good quality properties and acres of land lie idle during chronic homelessness in the city. Land hoarders must be compelled to use or sell land and property lying idle. In many cases the owners of sites are not developers or landlords first or foremost as the have other business interests or sources of income so the motivation to either sell or develop is low. I propose that a levy would be places on vacant and derelict sites to act as a stimulus to create new opportunities for development. If landlords refuse to pay the levy, or take action to sell or develop Dublin City Council should be able to CPO property at preferential rates to bring land into sustainable development.

 

I believe that a well-developed underground network would have an incredible effect on Dublin city and this is something I would fight to see delivered. An underground network would facilitate the development of a prosperous and highly connected city as it has done in London for over 100 years. One of the major advantages would be in helping people travel from work to home in the city and connecting families and friends living in different areas without needing a car. Most importantly it would get people our of their cars which would free up road space, which is highly limited and dangerous for cyclists and creating space for buses and improve punctuality, while reducing driver stress and burnout.

I am supportive of the BusConnects plan as this city deserves a reliable and more dispersed route network and I would support and contribute to the consultation process. Current plans for BusConnects place hundreds of trees – the lungs of our city – at risk of felling. It is essential that we do not fell trees in order to make extra space for buses in addition to cars. The goal here should be improve access to bus lanes by reducing the need for space for cars by reducing the number of cars on the road through greater use of public transport.

Private cars have been the solution to transport in Ireland for decades and the number of cars continues to increase. There are a number of reasons for this, including the availability of public transport, the proximity to transport links, the regularity and reliability of services and, very importantly, the cost of using these services in the context of reliability, proximity and regularity. Public transport must not be the "leisure option" for those not under pressure to arrive at a destination punctually.

I think BusConnects and an underground network must be made available to the public at fares that incentivise their use above using cars. In the context of the climate emergency it is critical that the public transport option is attractive to users as replacing car journeys with public transport will help drive carbon emissions down.

         

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