Use European funds to help the homeless not expand the airport: Cuffe - Green Party

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1st May 2019 | Housing, Press Releases, Transport

Use European funds to help the homeless not expand the airport: Cuffe

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The Green Party has criticised the Government for putting airport expansion plans ahead of tackling homelessness. The Green Party’s Dublin candidate in the forthcoming European Elections Ciaran Cuffe said it was unacceptable that homeless figures were rising due to a lack of investment in housing, while the Dublin Airport Authority is seeking funds from the European Investment Bank to help with their expansion plans.

Mr. Cuffe said: “In other countries such as Spain, cities have been able to obtain funding for public housing directly from the European Investment Bank whereas in Ireland Local Authorities are not given the powers to do this by Central Government. Instead, the Government is allowing a semi-state company the Dublin Airport Authority to apply for hundreds of millions of euro to expand the airport and increase greenhouse gas emissions.

“We should be spending this money on upgrading homes to reduce fuel poverty and reduce emissions, as well as on building new homes for those without a roof over their heads.  How can the Government talk about addressing homelessness and climate change when their investment priorities are at odds with this?

“Only yesterday we heard that Dublin City Council cannot afford to purchase ‘Part V’ housing units in new developments in Dublin’s Docklands. This is gentrifying our city by displacing those in need of housing to the periphery. This is unacceptable.

“Roughly a third of all tenancies are now state-assisted, with the cost to the taxpayer likely to hit €1billion this year. In 2022 this figure is to hit €1.7bn according to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. This is the cost of one children’s hospital a year pumped into the private rental sector, inflating rents and going to landlords’ pockets.

“Rather than building, the Government is counting properties leased from developers over 25 years with a 5.5% profit margin as social housing. Last Sunday we learnt the Government is using €140 million from the State’s Strategic Investment Fund to further invest in the private rental sector.

“The Government could use state land, resources, and EU funds to deflate the property market and provide public housing. Instead, Fine Gael are not only repeating the same mistakes as ten years ago, but creating new ones too.

“10,305 people are now officially homeless. The Government needs to change tack and provide cost-rental homes in all parts of the city. This would tackle affordability, promote social inclusion, and reduce the numbers on our housing lists. Cities such as Vienna show what can be achieved. If elected to the European Parliament I will work with my colleagues to provide a housing package to build and upgrade homes in areas that are most in need.