Queer community encouraged to help tackle critical Dublin housing crisis

"There is a higher rate of homelessness among the LGBTQ+ community, and this feeds into a lack of access to healthcare or other social supports."

The Aisteach Cooperative Housing Society is calling on the community to help create a queer housing cooperative in Dublin.

The current housing crisis is making it increasingly difficult for LGBTQ+ people to afford to buy or rent homes in Dublin, but the Aisteach Cooperative Housing Society is addressing this issue by creating an intergenerational queer housing cooperative.

‘Aisteach’ is the Irish word for queer. It also means fabulous, weird and wonderful. The group held its first public meeting on Thursday, February 23, at Outhouse, hosted by Michael Foley, who helped develop the group’s vision and strategy, and the agenda included a discussion about how to make a queer housing cooperative a reality.

Anna Nolan, National LGBT Federation (NXF) Chair, opened the meeting with a speech about the challenges Dublin’s LGBTQ+ community is currently facing. She said, “It shouldn’t be such a privilege to be able to afford housing, it should be standard. What is often overlooked or not considered is that there is a higher rate of homelessness among the LGBTQ+ community, and this feeds into a lack of access to healthcare or other social supports.”

Speakers discussed how as housing prices are growing more unattainable, the city is becoming a place where only the wealthy can live. If this trend continues, Dublin will become less diverse in terms of community, culture and services.

Aisteach plans to address these issues by developing a queer housing cooperative for LGBTQ+ people in Dublin. Alison Gilliland, Chair of Dublin City Council’s (DCC) Housing Strategic Policy Committee, recommended partnering with an Approved Housing Body (AHB) and affirmed her wholehearted support.

Eoin Carroll, Director of Policy and Communications at Cooperative Housing Ireland (CHI), spoke about the history of co-operative housing in Ireland, and identified housing challenges that are particular to small co-operatives, such as securing land and finances.

Among other things, Eoin encouraged Aisteach to construct a compelling argument around the need for LGBTQ+ community housing and to find champions within the Department of Housing, Local Authority, Oireachtas and Local Government to support Aisteach’s objectives.

The meeting concluded by offering a call for volunteers to help with areas including developing models, fostering community engagement and funding. Aisteach hopes that this will be a sustainable, intergenerational, queer community-led project.

The Aisteach cooperative has been in development for a number of years with the first meetings taking place in the GCN office. During the 2020 lockdowns, the planning committee formally registered as an Industrial and Provident Society Limited and developed its strategy and vision for an equitable, collaborative, non-discriminatory, welcoming and open, inclusive and diverse housing community.

Louise Moloney explained that cooperative membership models will begin at €1. All shareholders will have equal Annual General Meeting (AGM) voting rights. Members do not need to have become residents; they can join as an act of support and pledge to protect this from becoming a ‘for profit’ housing initiative.

Membership is open to the community; email [email protected] to request an application form.

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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