Housing during Covid-19
The housing crisis in Ireland is an ongoing issue that in recent months has been exacerbated by Covid-19.
While the government both North and South have claimed to halt evictions, not only will most people be unable to back pay rent, many tenants faced the threat of illegal evictions from landlords. The Free State ended the ban on evictions on August 1st, and immediately an eviction took place on the 15th- with bailiffs destroying the house to make it unliveable while gardaí stood by. This is the harsh reality of the relationship between landlords, the government and tenants. Landlords would rather destroy their own property than house vulnerable people during a pandemic, and the government will not only allow this, but abet it.
While a pandemic rages and the solution is to stay at home, the logical answer would be to suspend or cover rent, however, in the North, the British government decided to give landlords a mortgage holiday, and told landlords to be “sympathetic” to renters. However while many landlords took advantage of this scheme, they didn’t allow a rent holiday, meaning many tenants in the private rented sector either were paying rent and unable to afford little else, or couldn’t pay rent and knew they faced either illegal eviction or legal evictions post August.
Covid-19 has not gone away, and within Ireland the R number continues to rise, however laws surrounding renters protection have already slackened.
The state has yet again failed renters both North and South, showing renters countrywide that reliance on the state is not and cannot be the answer. That’s why renters most show a united front. Grassroots organising around renting is happening. In the past, Take Back the City showed the face of rising rents, police brutality and gentrification, it also showed the strength in renters collective powers.
CATU, a tenants union working across the island of Ireland, a grassroots organisation that centres tenants and resists evictions and slum landlords started late last year in November.
With goals of member protection, community building and fighting austerity, CATU is essential in fighting the ongoing and upcoming financial crisis, predicted to be the worst recession since 1870. Unless we build as renters collectively, stopping evictions and demanding better, it is working class renters who will be hurt the most with risks of homelessness. CATU has already made gains through helping defend members from evictions.
The Industrial Workers of the World (Ireland Branch) call on all to support this and to come out against the state's response to Covid and their ongoing disgraceful treatment of renters.