A group of activists have occupied a vacant building in Waterford City.
It’s in response to the worsening homeless crisis.
‘Take Back The City – Waterford’ initiated the 24 hour occupation of the former Presbytery on O’Connell Street at around 11.00am this morning.
The building is now owned by the local authority.
The group is demanding the council build affordable social housing on the land banks at Carrickphierish and Kilbarry.
They’re also highlighting the fact that there’s around 8,000 vacant homes in Waterford, they’re calling on the council to invoke Compulsory Purchase Orders and use these homes.
Local People Before Profit Rep, Una Dunphy said, “There is now over 10,000 people homeless in Ireland, including 3,800 children. More are in mortgage difficulties and more again are struggling to pay huge rents or living in substandard accommodation. The government have ignored calls from every corner of society to declare a national emergency and address the crisis.
“Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy issued targets last year, he said Waterford would build 687 new social houses between now and 2021. This is a ridiculously low number, but even so only 11 social houses were built last year. There are over 3,000 on the housing list in Waterford and it’s growing with many eviction orders before the courts. There is over 110 people homeless in Waterford at present.”
Local activist Michelle Byrne added, ‘The reason we have a housing crisis is because Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are wed to a market ideology. In other words, they are choosing to allow landlords, private developers and vulture funds reap huge profits instead of building houses. This is a class issue. While the rich get richer more of us are forced into homelessness.
“This is reflected by comments from Ivan Grimes the council director of services in charge of housing in Waterford who said “the challenge is to get the property market buoyant enough so that new builds will become attractive enough again for developers”. But the market is not responding with builds because it is designed to continue to stream profits to the elite few.”
The activists core demands are:
For the council to build affordable social housing on the land banks at Carrickphierish and Kilbarry. Public Land should be used for Public Housing!
There are around 8,000 vacant homes in Waterford. We are calling on the council to invoke Compulsory Purchase Orders and use these homes!
We want to see proper rent caps introduced. This can be done by linking them to inflation. Homes are for need, not greed!
A public meeting has been organised for next Thursday, the 13th of July at 7pm in the Unite Union Hall, Keyzer St. Speakers on the night are PBP Rep Una Dunphy, Michelle Byrne, USI Vice-President of campaigns and an activist from the Dublin Summerhill Occupation and United Against Racism.
AND WE'RE LIVE! Activists have initiated a 24hr occupation of a Vacant Property in O'Connell St. Waterford. More direct action will follow!