Minister rules out new body to tackle the housing crisis

Eoghan Murphy says we have to focus on the issue of supply

Minister rules out new body to tackle the housing crisis

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy after launching a new four house development at Mount Leinster Park in Carlow | Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is ruling out creating another Irish Water-type body to solve the housing crisis.

Mr Murphy says the suggestion to create another State agency to build social housing is not under consideration.

The proposal was floated last week, which could have taken control away from local authorities and raise its own money for construction.

It followed the deaths of three homeless people in recent days.

A 30-year-old woman was discovered in a tent at Gilabbey Park in Cork at around 2.00am on Friday morning, and later pronounced dead.

It followed the deaths of 'Jack' Watson in Dublin and a woman in Kildare last week week.

Minister Murphy says radical solutions are needed and the Government is trying to get organisations already in place to work more closely together.

He told Pat Kenny here on Newstalk: "We have to focus on supply - that's very, very important.

"When we look at the challenges that we currently face in homelessness, when we look at things like the tragic deaths that we saw last week - and we knew we had a crisis in homelessness before these deaths and it's very unfortunate that people in homelessness do die - we also have this very difficult situation with homeless families".

"There is absolutely a correlation between the fact that we got rid of bedsits and we now have far more homeless individuals, particularly men, on the streets.

"But when I raised that as an issue, for example as something we needed to look at, there was a big kick back and an impression that we were going to go back to the standards of the past.

"What I think people need to understand is that the Government is putting a huge amount of time, effort and money into this - together with the voluntary sector - to try and build these solutions.

"But we are going to need to take more radical actions, and we're going to need the support of the voluntary sector - but also of people to get these in place".

He also dismissed the idea of a housing-specific body: "The idea that we're going to create a semi-state (company) like Irish Water, it's not going to happen.

"And if it were going to happen, I don't think we would have communicated it in the way it was communicated.

"Responsibility for housing has to remain with me in the department and with the Government at Cabinet - and it will".

"We need to have a proper conversation I think about a long-term rental market and sustainable and secure rentals for people, and what's the best way to deliver that."

"Is it to have a couple of big companies doing it at scale... is it to have thousands of small landlords with a number of properties, is it a mix in between?".

"We're looking to see if we can give greater protection to tenants where their property might move into receivership". 

It comes as the Government is being told it must build 90,000 social housing units or accept failure on its housing policy.

The National Social Monitor, published by Social Justice Ireland, says the current approach is not working and the private sector will never build social housing units on the scale required.

The 2017 edition outlines a range of policy issues that impact on people's well-being.

It also highlights specific areas which require attention and resources.