Proposing Housing Cooperatives at Labour Party Conference

22nd April, 

We need public investment in housing to stop the crisis, but I believe Housing Cooperatives can be a better model for providing housing in the future.

At the conference, Brendan Howlin outlined his plan for our future focusing on the future of work, the environment and Brexit.  Labour is looking at a basic income, Introducing Electric Busses to Dublin Bus and banning Microbeads, and has published 20 Brexit Proposals

Speech:

"Comrades and Friends,

We all know the housing situation is bad.

And we know that nothing this government has proposed is going to make it any better.

A do-nothing government is one thing.

But what we have in the area of housing is far worse than that.

This is a government whose housing policies are actively making things worse for people all over our country.

Worse for renters, worse for first-time buyers, worse for those struggling to find any home at all.

The Eurostat figures show that Irish people are now spending 5% more of their income on housing than they did ten years ago.

That’s a shocking statistic.

5% extra, and where’s it going?

To banks that won’t lend, and big companies that won’t contribute.

To the speculators that this government and their Fianna Fáil allies have always been in bed with.

Now if these parties had followed Labour’s advice and introduced proper rent controls much earlier;

We know that things would be very different and a great deal better.

But how do we change things now, after so much inaction and so many half-measures?

The sad truth, comrades, is that cooperatives alone can’t solve this crisis.

There’s no substitute for major investment in public social housing.

But what cooperatives can do is this:

They can provide us with a new model for our housing system;

One that values public good over private speculation.

That sees a home as a right and not an asset.

That grants people the dignity of a good place to live;

Without chaining them to skyrocketing rents or an impossible mortgage.

Comrades, as the great song says: which side are you on?

Labour at its best stands for doing things differently.

So let’s stand up to dodgy capital and to heartless speculation.

Let’s build a cooperative housing system for the 21st century. "

Motion passed: 

"Conference condemns the failure of this government to propose real solutions to the housing crises.

Conference notes the Eurostat Report which finds in 2016 Irish people spent on average 24.6% on housing costs, a 5% increase over the previous 10 years.

Conference notes the success of housing cooperatives in other countries, particularly in Germany.

Conference calls on the Labour Party to develop a strong policy on housing cooperatives to include:
• Ways of keeping cooperative assets in cooperative ownership and preventing them from being sold for profit
• Government supports to develop housing cooperatives including loan guarantees and practical supports
• Ways for the Credit Union movement to get involved
• Work with PES to secure EU funding for housing cooperatives."