Home for Good has today (17 August), made its submission to the Housing Commission calling for the Government to host a referendum as soon as possible that will result in a constitutional right to housing. The submission sets out a proposed wording for a referendum, shows how such a constitutional change would help address the current housing crisis, and calls for a clear timeline between now and a referendum date next year.
The Government’s Housing Commission has launched a public consultation seeking views on a Referendum on Housing in Ireland. The Commission’s consultation is seeking views on whether there should be a constitutional amendment regarding housing and what form it should take.
In addition to its own submission, Home for Good are calling on members of the public to use their voice and make their own submissions to help ensure that people in Ireland are given the opportunity to vote for the right to housing to be recognised in our Constitution.
Home for Good are hosting a webinar on August 25th to explain in further detail why a constitutional right to housing is necessary to end the ongoing housing crisis and explain how the public can make a submission. More information including registration can be found on the Home for Good website.
Ann-Marie O’Reilly, Policy Officer from Threshold said:
“We are calling on the public to make their own submission to the Housing Commission. The Government has announced plans to host a referendum on housing but has yet to commit to this being a referendum on the right to housing. This very important distinction needs clarity now.
Home for Good will be hosting a webinar Thursday August 25th from 2:00-3:00pm to discuss what a constitutional right to housing would mean. We will be joined by housing, homelessness, and legal experts and will explore in more detail how you can get involved in making a submission.
This submission is an opportunity to have your voice heard, to give the people of Ireland the opportunity to ensure housing becomes a constitutional right.”
Anna Marie Bourke, Policy Analyst from the Simon Communities of Ireland who chair of Home for Good, said:
“Our Constitution currently provides protection of private property rights in both Article 43 and Article 40.3. There is no equivalent protection for the right to housing in the Constitution.
Inserting a right to housing would provide greater balance in the Constitution and would remove potential barriers to progressive housing policies and legislation. A right to housing would reframe the current overly narrow interpretation of private property rights and enable the Government to respond to the current housing and homelessness crisis in a way that properly and fairly balances competing interests.”
Rory Hearne, Assistant Professor and Lecturer in Social Policy at Maynooth University, said:
“We now have 10,492 people living in emergency homeless accommodation, 61,880 households waiting for social housing and over 166,000 vacant homes throughout the country. These statistics are symptoms of a broken housing system. It is clear that housing has not yet been given the overwhelming priority from Government that it deserves.
The inclusion of a right to housing in our Constitution has enormous potential to be a catalyst for change as it will place an onus on the State to develop and implement policy and practice which will meet the right to adequate housing of our citizens, and safeguard against future housing crises from occurring.”
Aoife Kelly-Desmond, Managing Solicitor from Mercy Law Resource Centre, said:
“The Constitution shapes Government policy and legislation. The referendum needs to give the public the opportunity to vote to recognise a balanced, stand-alone, enforceable right to housing that would support the development and advancement of progressive and effective housing policies.
The right to housing would apply to every person, including owner-occupiers, renters and social housing tenants. Owner-occupiers remain the largest proportion of Irish society and if the proposed wording were adopted they would have increased constitutional protection, enjoying the right to private property, the right to housing and the right to inviolability of the dwelling to protect their home. A person who lives in a home which they own will have nothing to fear from this proposed amendment and will in fact have their rights strengthened.”