Sinn Féin TD Patricia Ryan from Monasterevin recently criticised two of the government parties for a ‘U-turn’ on housing policy.
Speaking in Dáil Éireann, Deputy Ryan remarked that “we are told the Housing Minister is conducting a review of co-living. While in opposition, the Minister labelled co-living as ‘bonkers’. The current Taoiseach when in opposition referred to it as ‘battery cage-type accommodation’. It is not often I agree with the Minister or the Taoiseach on housing policy, but these are indeed strange times.
“On the 11 of June last year, the Green Party produced a paper on co-living and co-housing, labelling co-living as ‘inhumane and profit-driven’. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. The Green Party was in opposition then; it is in government now. Co-living is still wrong and needs to be rectified. The reason for co-living is not to cut the very long housing waiting lists; it is to maximise profits for developers by squeezing as many housing units as possible into small spaces. While Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael may have a cosy relationship with developers, I urge the Green Party not to be tainted by association.”
As Aoife Moore, political correspondent with the Irish Examiner, wrote recently, ‘co-living developments see bedrooms, often the size of a disabled parking space, built for single people with shared kitchen and living spaces’.
In a recent statement, the Kildare TD explained that the Ministerial Power (Repeal) (Ban Co-Living and Build to Rent) Bill 2020 sought to amend the Planning and Development Act 2000 and to repeal the Build to Rent and Shared Accommodation sections of Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments. She added that it would have scrapped the power Ministers have to make sweeping changes to planning law without a vote of the Oireachtas and banned co-living and the substandard design of build-to-rent properties for renters.
Deputy Ryan went on to say that “in County Kildare the standard response from the council when I make a representation on behalf of a constituent requiring housing is that the council is dealing with 2007 and 2008. That is 12 and 13 years ago, respectively. That is a disgrace. Everyone else will have to find a HAP tenancy. HAP tenancies are like hen’s teeth in Kildare. Bad and all as the situation is in general, for single people HAP tenancies are even worse. They cannot be found for single people. Most often one is asked to go to the charity shop and buy a tent.”
She said that on a recent Friday “I slept outdoors for Focus Ireland’s Shine a Light sleep-out. I commend the work of Focus Ireland and Housing Action Kildare, whose members between them raised over €1,100 for Focus Ireland. My experience gave me a tiny glimpse into the life of a rough sleeper. The cold gets inside the body and it takes hours after coming in out of the cold to warm up. Sounds are amplified, and I am sure nobody who sleeps rough ever gets a good night’s sleep. I felt safe. I was in my back yard. Imagine what it is like trying to sleep in the constant danger of being on a public street.
“The only solution is to build public housing on public land and to ensure that homes are affordable for the working poor. Unfortunately, the Government voted against this bill, including local TDs Martin Heydon and Cathal Berry. How anyone could be comfortable with anyone paying €1,300 to live in a space the size of an average car parking space is beyond me.”