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Apollo House: Return to a fighting strategy for housing rights

Who is it who is threatened by the Irish Housing Crisis?

It is not just the army of rough sleepers on our streets and the shocking level of sudden death in the winter months.

Nor is it simply an issue of the "hidden homeless" moving from couch to couch in a desperate struggle to avoid rough sleeping.

It doesn't stop with the young parents, trapped in Bed and Breakfast rooms, struggling to meet their children's needs in impossible conditions.

The housing crisis affects the mass of working people, living in fear of eviction, of the next rent increase or the next rise in mortgage interest rate. Wondering when they will no longer have the reserves to put food on the table.

So what's the solution?

Do we call on the government to speed up the market? Offer more incentives? More regulation? Rent control? Demand more social housing?

We should certainly call for reform, but we must bear in mind the role of the government in the protection of landlordism, its role in the mass sell-off of NAMA properties and its alliance with the European bankers and the vulture capitalists. It will take enormous effort to wring anything from them.

What's wrong with the Apollo House strategy? A year ago a coalition of trade unionists and housing activists seized NAMA property, OUR property, paid for by the Irish working class, and used it to house the homeless.

It was wildly popular, but ended after concessions that ran alongside threats from the courts

Itís time for round two. There will be confrontation with courts, bailiffs and guards, but we know enough history to know that this conflict is inevitable and enough combatively to know that we can win.

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