The Union Of Students In Ireland Welcomes Action Plan For Housing And Homelessness
The Union of Students in Ireland has welcomed the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness launched today by Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Simon Coveney. USI said the action plan included new steps that will help address and reduce the number of people in homelessness.
Among the Action Plan’s goals will be a major new national fund, which will buy repossessed homes from banks, and use these accommodations to help relieve the housing and homelessness crisis. Another goal is to build 45,000 social homes in the next five years, and an increase in the number of ‘rapid build’ homes. The Action Plan also proposes greater protections for tenants – which will extend to those in student accommodation. USI has also welcomed the funding for a Student Housing Officer that will work with USI to liaise with relevant stakeholders to fulfil certain tasks.
“USI welcomes the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness which reflects a clear sense of urgency to tackle the issues surrounding homelessness and the accommodation crisis.” Annie Hoey, USI President, said. “This ambitious and compassionate plan, if implemented properly, will significantly reduce the number of people affected by the problems associated with these issues and increase the number of housing units available to those who desperately need it, as well as reduce the property wasted as a result of vacating, abandonment or repossession.
“It is clear that the lobbying and research efforts by USI over the past few years have paid off, as many of our recommendations made it into the final plan. It is reassuring to know that the urgency of the situation has not been ignored and the recommendations of USI have been taken onboard.”
USI President Annie Hoey is calling on Minister Coveney to work with USI and the relevant stakeholders to ensure that the student accommodation crisis is addressed as soon as possible, through the development of the student accommodation housing strategy.
USI also said they welcomed the planned actions to meet the needs of young people leaving care settings who are at increased risk of entering adult homelessness. USI said it was extremely positive that the report included plans to re-activate vacant buildings across the country.
“If dealt with quickly and affectively, these accommodation units will turn into readily available, absolutely vital housing in built-up areas.” Hoey said. “Forcing empty properties back onto the housing sector will supply housing for people while construction goes underway over the next few years for new accommodation projects.”
USI said the roll out of some of the recommendations is still unclear but they will continue to work with relevant stakeholders to resolve accommodation issues.
“While we are nowhere near done in relation to our work on student housing, today is a positive development.” Hoey said. “We need the Student Housing Officer to be appointed and come onboard as soon as possible, before August, to work with USI on further solving these issues.”
The Union of Students in Ireland has also drawn up 8 tips for students on finding accommodation for the 2016/2017 academic year. They said with these tips, students will be less likely to be stuck without accommodation, less at risk of being defrauded, and less likely to incur deposit problems. USI recommends the following tips for securing student accommodation:
- Start searching early. The earlier you start, the wider a choice you’ll have. If you leave it too late, the best value accommodation options could be booked up.
- Never put money down, either for a deposit or rent, without meeting the landlord or agency first. There are online scams and frauds you need to be vigilant of. Meeting people in person and seeing the inside of the property before you hand over any money reduces the risk of fraud.
- Try to pay electronically by bank transfers as cash isn’t traceable.
- If you have to pay in cash, make sure you get a receipt.
- Make sure you fill out an inventory list and take pictures of any damages before you move in, so that anything that was already broken, chipped, peeled or damaged doesn’t get taken out of your deposit as a penalty.
- Make sure the contract you sign is for the period you intend to stay in the accommodation. Bear in mind if you are planning on going away or moving back home for the summer you should only sign a contract, or agree with your landlord (in writing) that your stay is as long as the college term, or you could be charged for the whole year’s rent or risk losing your deposit.
- Draw up a cleaning rota where every housemate has a different job every week, so that it keeps the place tidy and everyone does an equal share of the housework.
- If possible, try to live with people who have similar lifestyles to you, or who will be respectful of quieter lifestyles. If you’re living with someone loud, messy or who has bad housemate etiquette, it can cause tension.