Weak response to SU’s calls for a ministry for housing

UCD Students’ Union President Marcus O’Halloran has said that he has heard “nothing major” back from his open letter about the accommodation crisis to the members of the new Dáil.O’Halloran called for the introduction of a Ministry of Housing in the letter, which he sent on March 16th. Speaking to the University Observer, O’Halloran said that he had gotten a “good response” from Dessie Ellis, but that there had been little other contact. “Everyone was really receptive of it and everyone acknowledged that it’s something that’s an issue and it’s something that needs to be addressed immediately once a government is formed, but time will tell I suppose,” said O’Halloran.O’Halloran hopes that a full Ministry for Housing will be formed, saying that several parties had mentioned it in their manifestos. “Fianna Fáil had it I think in their manifesto, Sinn Féin are very keen on it… the Social Democrats were keen on a full ministry for housing as well. So I think that it is feasible, obviously they’re going to tell you that it’s not the most important issue in the world at the moment but for us here it’s probably one of the biggest issues we’ve faced all year and just leading into next year I think there’s going to be an even bigger housing crisis for students coming back next year.”He added, “I think a full ministry would be adequate at this stage because realistically we need five or six thousand houses this side of Dublin alone, never mind the rest.”In the letter, O’Halloran wrote that it had never been more expensive to rent in Dublin. “According to reports on market supply and price trend, rates are higher today than they were in 2007 during the property boom. Areas traditionally rented by UCD students have seen the sharpest rises over the last five years. A place in Ranelagh, Rathgar, Rathmines and Clonskeagh is up to 30 per cent more expensive than in 2011.”O’Halloran has previously called on government officials to respond to the student housing crisis, and was in contact with Minister Alan Kelly and Tánaiste Joan Burton during the first semester of this year.