A new style of housing activism is gaining momentum – The Irish Times

Sometimes the most powerful messages are not where you expect them to be. Take a look on Google Maps at O’Devaney Gardens in Dublin 7. You can see the controversial new housing estate being built by a private developer on the site of the 1950s social flats project. Look from a closer – as local resident, freelance art director Lian Bell did – to where the last blocks of flats stood before they were demolished. The ground screams. “Apartments will always belong to the people,” read one message. “You took our homes, roared another from the concrete.

Housing activism is happening, but perhaps not in the clear way that people envision movement building. For now, it’s a growing but disparate movement. However, in politics, in militant circles and literally in the streets, the signs of protest are multiplying. Who are the main “influencers” in this area?

The party’s biggest political influencers in housing are Eoin Ó Broin, Paul Murphy, Rebecca Moynihan and Cian O’Callaghan. Sinn Féin’s Ó Broin is evidently the housing minister-in-waiting, with a picture of French modernist architect Le Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation housing project in 1950 as a pandemic-era Zoom background, and three books written on housing and architecture. If Fine Gael’s approach to housing represents a neoliberal failure, then his proposes a seismic reboot, prioritizing public housing construction, cutting rents and tackling the distortion caused by a failing centered approach. on the market.

Vulture funds and institutional investors suck up the supply of housing and compete not only with individual buyers, but also with small private landlords. Practice? Who knows. But the current situation is certainly not. The fact that there are landlords within his party – including Johnny Guirke, who has recently been in hot water over his inability to register rental property with the Residential Tenancies Commission – and that the Sinn Féin itself is a property rich entity, will need to be addressed to build trust with the public on Sinn Féin housing policies. But the reality is that when you’re popular, the electorate allows you a longer leash.

The question is vast, with so many moving parts, but it is obvious that a referendum on the right to housing could be something through which eclectic housing activism could be funneled.

The People Before Profit TD Murphy rhetoric is resonating right now. The narrative of landlord elites causing and capitalizing on the suffering of tenants, people on housing lists, and record numbers of homeless, essentially writes itself. Every controversy that emerges over a government politician’s land ownership amplifies his message.

As a party, Labor often struggles to get its housing message where it wants to, but Moynihan is a cohesive voice, particularly on amenities and corporate gentrification in the city of Dublin. His position that a right to housing must be constitutionally equal to the right to private property is a campaign-oriented approach. The problem is vast, with so many moving parts, but it is obvious that a referendum on the right to housing – however effective it may be in real terms – could be something by which eclectic housing activism could be channeled.

O’Callaghan’s position – that the government is too close to those profiting from the housing crisis to take the necessary steps to address it – is a no-brainer that illustrates the position of social democrats. What they lack in media coverage, they gain in clarity and pragmatism.

Sunday, the Union of Community Action Tenants launches its national campaigns. At its annual general meeting last April, the union endorsed two approaches. The first concerns the organization of tenants of existing social housing and the fight for more social housing. The second opposes for-profit developments of luxury apartments, co-housing projects and hotels. These campaigns include canvassing, stands and meetings, mapping of landmarks, and direct action, including protests and pickets. Many of the organization’s branches are based in Dublin, but it also has branches in Belfast, Galway, Cork and Maynooth. The syndicate brings together tenants in the private rental market, mortgage creditors, municipal tenants and those living in precarious or emergency housing.

There are more and more campaigns emerging all the time. Revolutionary Housing League stocks have been underreported. This group has occupied buildings and sites, most recently a site at Parkgate House next to Heuston Station in Dublin, renaming it Ionad Seán Heuston. Some may find this approach alarming, but it is happening. Last week, the group’s fundraising of €3,000 reached its goal within hours.

In alternative media, the website The gap lit fires under the government over the Robert Troy scandal and the multitude of problems within An Bord Pleanála. Online, some of the biggest influencers include crazy house prices, a platform led by Ciarán Mulqueen. Crazy House Prices has over 110,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter, a podcast and over 450 followers on Patreon. Last week I noticed a new platform, The domain of uswith a possibility for people to contact their DT.

One commentator who will continue to make an impact this fall is Maynooth speaker Dr Rory Hearne, whose book Gaffs: Why No One Can Get A House and What We Can Do About It is published this month. There’s also the Cost of Living Coalition, which is holding a pre-budget protest in Dublin on September 24. And increasingly, journalists themselves – especially young journalists dealing with the housing crisis – have more and more opinions on the issue. While many lament the lack of mobilization in mass protests, things are building – at least faster than the houses themselves.

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