Homelessness has increased by 16 per cent in the last six months with 10,325 people living in emergency homeless accommodation, including more than 3,000 children, an Oireachtas committee has heard.
“In the first three months of this year 1,132 notices to quit have been issued, the highest since data collection started in 2019,″ Wayne Stanley, chair of the Home for Good group, told housing committee members. He said a total of 3,818 eviction notices had been issued since the pandemic era ban on evictions was lifted last April.
“While the recent heightening of the housing crisis has had a number of driving factors, we firmly believe that the seeds of this crisis were sown in the belief that home is not understood as central to our social infrastructure, and it is not a right for individuals and families in Ireland,” he said.
Home for Good welcomed “the recent support for and the developments towards a referendum on the right to housing, particularly the launch of the Housing Commission,” he said. “Housing in Ireland is truly in a state of crisis at all levels and a referendum on the right to housing cannot be delayed,” he said.
Aoife Kelly-Desmond, of Home for Good, told the Committee that “people experiencing ongoing housing insecurity in a turbulent housing market are failed by an imbalance in our Constitution” which fundamentally favoured private property rights.
“There is no equivalent right to housing in the Constitution,” she said.
Dr Colm O Cinneide, Professor of Constitutional and Human Rights Law at University College London, told the Committee that the right to housing was “well recognised in international human rights law.”
However, while including a right to housing in the Constitution could “generate empty commitments”, and might be “legally disruptive,” he said, it was “worth noting that many states recognise the right to housing in their constitutions.”
In his view, and “as long as one does not assume they will change the world, decent arguments can be made in favour of constitutionalising the right to housing — even if its ‘added value’ will probably be limited, incremental and catalytic, rather than radical and transformative,” he said.