President calls for more social housing

Over 300 families newly homeless in Dublin since January, including nearly 650 children

President Michael D Higgins was outspoken about tackling homelessness and its causes as he met with affected families in Dublin on September 8th. Video: Darragh Bambrick

 

President Michael D Higgins has said there is a housing “crisis” and a “real and urgent need” for more public housing in the State.

Housing was a “basic need” for citizenship, he said, and provision of housing could not be left to the market.

The President was speaking yesterday after meeting some of the 300 families, including almost 650 children, who have become homeless in Dublin since January. As head of State, he said, he had a duty to speak about the distinction between the “wants” and “needs” of citizens.

“I believe that the restructuring of the economy . . . has to accept the distinction between needs that are basic for your participation in the society and the economy, and those needs are health, housing, basic education.

‘Citizenship needs’

European Union

“It’s about democracy. You can’t leave the provision of housing to a residual feature of the market place. We have done that and homelessness is a consequence of that.

“It isn’t a question of just spreading blame anywhere,” said the President at a Focus Ireland event in Dublin.

“We have to accept that we need a great, huge increase in public rental accommodation.”

Figures

Mr Higgins said it was “time we got real about housing”.

“We had a decade and a half of people being invited to get their first foot on the property ladder when, in fact, what people want is warmth, shelter, security, being able to send children to the school they begin with, having neighbours, to be free from crime . . . these are the issues and they are all very, very solvable.

“Government does its business but. as President, I have to express concern at what I regard as a crisis . . .”