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Asylum seeker, homeless - We Rebel! We support decent housing for all!

category ireland / britain | community struggles | opinion / analysis author Wednesday September 02, 2015 23:56author by Tom Murray - WSM Report this post to the editors

Last week, three children under the age of six slept rough in Dublin city centre while their parents stayed awake to watch over them. As of August 2015, this family is but one of 620 families in Ireland, including more than 1,300 children, who are homeless. The root of the current crisis of housing is the current crisis of capitalism.

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Last week, three children under the age of six slept rough in Dublin city centre while their parents stayed awake to watch over them. As of August 2015, this family is but one of 620 families in Ireland, including more than 1,300 children, who are homeless. The root of the current crisis of housing is the current crisis of capitalism.

Capitalism is such a bad system that the only way it can keep supporting itself is to keep doing the same things that produced a crisis in the first place. Since a property bubble was a key feature of the boom last time, the only solution this time around is to create an even bigger bubble. This system rewards property developers, bankers and vulture funds as well as their small standing army of cheerleaders in the form of government politicians, senior civil servants, mainstream economists, accountants and lawyers. Just before the crash in 2008, Irish banks lavished trips to the 2008 Ryder Cup in Kentucky, hospitality at the Monaco Grand Prix, and skiing holidays on property developers Gerry Gannon and Peter Cosgrave [1]. After the crash, the state rescued the banks and the property developers through the blanket bank guarantee and through NAMA. But what about the rest of us?

Over the last number of years, Capital – aka “the rule of money” - has compelled the state to stop funding social housing and to promote housing provision through the ‘free market’ (supporting profit-making) instead. Since the start of the crisis, the numbers in need of social housing have increased by over 60 percent. Last year, there were nearly 90,000 households (or some 170,000 people) in need of social housing. 60 percent have been waiting for two years or longer. Last year, the government spent 7 billion euro paying down (odious) debt. Just spending half that would build 20,000 social houses and create 35,000 direct jobs [2].

But Capital is never satisfied. It wants more, and more, and more. Rents go up and up and up. Capital has compelled the state to cut emergency accommodation to the bone. At least 620 families are now housed in private hotels and B&Bs instead of social housing. This accommodation often lacks basic facilities and prevents families from cooking food, children from learning, or people enjoying their own company. It reminds us of how the Irish state treats asylum seekers by housing them in ‘direct provision’ centres.

There are 34 Direct Provision Centres in Ireland. These are often privately owned operations too. Families have to live in one room, often for years (sometimes 14 years!) on end. People are unable to cook for themselves or their children, unable to eat when they wish, and given food they cannot eat. Asylum seekers are barred from working and from third-level education. They must live on €19.10 a week with only €9.60 per child, using this money to buy ‘extras’ such as medicine, transport, and even drinkable water.

Capital wants us to discipline us. It wants us to look at homeless people and think ‘What an awful situation; I must work harder to prevent it happening to me’ (Working harder, for us, always means making more money for someone else). Or Capital wants us to think of asylum seekers and say ‘We have our own people to be concerned about’ (But we know that asylum seekers are ‘our people’ and that, given a decent chance, asylum seekers would work in and make our communities better places to live). Or Capital wants us not to think about these people at all. It says ‘This is unfortunate, but necessary. We will have growth tomorrow and then we will fix these problems’. But we know this is untrue. It was untrue yesterday, untrue today, and will be untrue tomorrow. In all cases, Capital (with the help of the State and its servants) is preventing people from living in homes with dignity.

But dignity rebels. We see that we have more in common with homeless people and with families in direct provision than we have with the class of people who profited in the boom and who are still profiting in the bust – whether big developers or direct provision operators.

We refuse to bow to the rule of money in our society. We believe that housing is a human need that we can create for all. We see all the empty buildings in the city. We support squatting as a form of direct action to provide shelter for homeless families.

We support those housing action groups that are busy forming and talking to one another across Dublin and across Ireland. We will march with them in Darndale on 6th September and outside the Dáil on 22nd September. We support the Barricade Inn, a squatted anarchist social centre, that holds regular information nights about squatting [3]. We support the Anti-Racism Network and the brave asylum seekers who resist the system at Kinsale Road Asylum Centre [4].

We expect no change from above. We look to one another and our own initiative to support decent housing for all.

WORDS: Tom Murray

REFERENCES
[1] Ciarán Hancoc, “Banking inquiry: Banks sent developers skiing ahead of crash”, Irish Times, August 25, 2015.
[2] Michael Taft, “By This Time Next Year We Could End Homelessness”. Unite’s Notes on the Front; 12 May, 2014.
[3] Barricade Inn. https://barricadeinn.squ.at/
[4] Dublin Anarchist Bookfair. “Migration State Racism and Anti-Racism Organising” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHLzGOJ5OMA; http://www.wsm.ie/asylum

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