The housing crisis is the core issue facing our city. The shortage of homes is wrecking lives and forcing people out of the city. I regularly deal with people who are forced into homelessness – an unacceptable situation.

The international research is clear: building new homes is the primary way to get rents and prices down, while building real power for tenants and affordability for purchasers.

Below are my ideas on how to do it – you can read my plans on other themes here.

Supporting new building

Solving the housing crisis will take many policies, but there will be no solution without a massive expansion in the number of new homes.

This means more homes for private sale, affordable purchase, private rent, cost rental, and social housing. Across the board, we need more housing to drive down prices and resolve this problem once and for all.

I work from a presumption that new housing plans are good and may need improvement – rather than something to be instinctively opposed to. This may sound obvious or basic, but I am constantly amazed at how many elected representatives oppose even reasonable housing plans.

I won’t do that – unless there are major, fundamental problems with a proposal, I’ll seek to improve plans rather than stop them.

Public housing on public land

I will push the council to develop more social and public housing on public lands, and support the Land Development Agency and approved housing bodies to do so too.

Social housing is key in fighting homelessness in particular, but can also prevent gentrification in areas as they grow denser.

Action on dereliction

In a housing crisis, there is nothing more galling than a vacant or derelict site in a city. I have reported several such sites to the council – several sites were put on a register and subject to tax or compulsory purchase, which eventually got them developed for housing.

When that system works, it’s brilliant and effective. But it is clear that the council’s team who work on it are underpowered and under-resourced. I would push for greater staffing in the Vacant and Derelict Sites Unit, and seek a more legally aggressive approach to such sites.

Separate to that, I would also seek that we vary the city’s development plan to allow for more flexibility in turning unused commercial buildings into housing. Inflexible planning standards are making much of this work impossible. We need to provide more opportuinity for converting offices to housing, while maintaining necessary rules for fire safety and quality of life.

Vacant space above shops

Dublin needs to develop a new plan to develop space above shops for housing – something we haven’t managed to get right in the past. If we succeed, we unlock new housing and bring new life into town, ensuring that town is for living, not just working and shopping.

The city council and national government offer grants to try renovate space above shops for housing, but it clearly hasn’t been enough to get things moving. From speaking with various people who have worked on such projects, they tell me that there is too much complexity and financial uncertainty in them. It’s clear to me that the private sector will not be able to deliver without strong state intervention.

That’s why I think a scheme where the council takes a more direct role in terms of ownership of the sites, and does much of the design work directly could work. This may involve selling some units after the work is done to secure financing, but I want to see above the shop living become a practical reality – it’s clear that the council has to lead the way.

AirBnB crackdown

Full time AirBnBs take homes off the market, which could be used for permanent residential living. Tourists will always be welcome in Dublin, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of housing for people who want to live here.

I’ve taken a direct approach and pursued several illegal AirBnBs, and successfully prevented new ones from getting planning permission.

New national powers to crack down on short-term lets were stalled due to European Commission objections, but once that is overcome, I would seek the city council to take an aggressive, determined approach to stamping this problem out, and delivering thousands of homes back to Dublin residents.

Regenerating the flats

Dublin 8 is home to many council-owned flat complexes, many dating back to the 1930s. They support proud communities, who have been let down by substandard conditions. They can face mold, damp, cramped conditions, filthy stairs, and unsafe layouts.

I would fully support regenerations and renovations to improve conditions in our inner-city flat complexes. This is already working well in Dolphin’s Barn, but we need to push for similar schemes in Oliver Bond, Tyrone Place, Basin Lane etc. From what I’ve seen, this takes long-term, consistent pressure from councillors to get it on the agenda and ensure it is done in a way that is respectful to existing tenants’ needs.

In many cases, this can be done with existing buildings being gutted and redone, but may involve selective demolition in some cases.

Rezoning land

In recent years, I supported the city council’s move to rezone industrial estate land for housing. There is now very little land in Dublin City – outside of parkland – that doesn’t allow housing. I wouldn’t touch precious park space, but I support efforts to ensure that housing-inclusive zoning is rolled out to any other appropriate sites in the city, such as underused commercial or industrial space.

Expanding maintenance

A repeat problem we face is the delay in refitting council-owned properties as tenants leave. This process is costly and takes time, resulting in long delays.

I would seek to expand council maintenance apprenticeships, to rapidly repurpose these empty council-owned homes, while also strengthening the apprenticeship pipeline for the wider housing sector.

Protecting tenants

The city council operates a really strong “tenant-in-situ” scheme, where the council purchases homes from private landlords where the tenant is at risk of eviction. I have worked on several cases where this has worked and it has changed people’s lives for the better. I would work to further resource and expedite cases in this scheme.

Having lived in Belgium for three years, I saw a much stronger set of tenants’ rights, where the system is much more aimed at protecting tenants. Much of Ireland’s laws on renting are controlled nationally, but I would strongly support government work in this area, and continue to be an advocate for individual tenants who are facing difficulty in Dublin 8.