The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

The Men of No Property


Liam O Ruairc

The Housing Executive published last week a report entitled “Northern Ireland Housing Market Review”. According to its findings, 31,600 (5% of) homes in Northern Ireland are unfit to live in. However, if one applies the Decent Home Standard (introduced in England and Wales earlier this year), 150,000 properties fall short of this standard. This shows that there is a clear problem with housing in the North. Not only is there a problem with properties, but there are increasing problems for people to find somewhere to live. The number of households listed as being homeless has increased by 12 percent since 2001, half are single and two thirds are men. Almost half of the 27,000 people waiting for housing allocation are in housing stress compared to around 10,500 in March 2001. (Belfast Telegraph, 13 December 2002) If the report presents interesting facts and figures, it fails to ask the question: who benefits from this situation, and who loses?

As everybody knows, the price of homes has dramatically increased in the North for the last eight years or so. The average cost of a house now stands at £82,152. Property firms are making huge profits, while the Housing Executive warns of an increasing affordability problem in some part of Belfast and elsewhere. If no resistance is shown by the people to those property firms, we might end up like round Dublin where property prices have blown out of proportion! When people find it difficult to buy a house, they (especially if they do not have a family) will have to rent. And the Landlords will find there an opportunity to artificially increase the rents. To deal with the housing problem, local authorities will build social housing. The above-mentioned report estimates that around 1,500 properties are required annually to meet the rising demand. But all this is delayed and made more difficult by the speculators who will increase land prices. At the same time, when ordinary people required badly needed housing, luxury apartments are being built up all over the place for the needs of the most privileged sections of the population.

The situation is already bad enough, but it is our responsibility to organise to prevent it from deteriorating further. Young families looking for a home, individuals forced to live in sordid shared accomodations, old people finding the winter difficult because their home is substandard, all those have no objective interest in maintaining the current system, they have everything to gain from radically transforming it. Property firms, estate agents, speculators and landlords: all benefit from the current organisation of housing provision, and have everything to loose from a system in which housing is allocated according to needs, not profits. The interests of those two groups are antagonistic. But to change the current situation, people must organise themselves. A policy of rent controls, regulation of land prices, the immediate introduction of the Decent Home Standard and an associated implementation policy, the seizure of empty properties for people badly in need of housing; all those could be elements of a platform proposed by Republican Socialists to mobilise the people. Those of no property have nothing to lose but their slumbers…





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

19 December 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Take It With A Pinch Of Salt
Tom Luby


Victory 2016 plus 40 - Remember to Read the Small Print

Anthony McIntyre


The Men of No Property
Liam O Ruairc


Relatives of Republican Prisoners
Orlaith Dillion


Dirty Politics
Carrie Twomey


Henry McDonald, “Irish Anti-Semitism” and the Zionist Roadshow
Brian Kelly


Arrests in London of Turkish Hunger Strike supporters


15 December 2002


Arrests in London of Turkish Hunger Strike supporters


The Beast is Back
Henry McDonald


Christmas in the "Holy Land"
Margaret Quinn


The Theocractic Threat to Secular Freedom

Anthony McIntyre




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