Citizen Journalism Ireland: Urban abandonments to crisis in housing by Michelle Clarke (January, April, July, August 2014 including selection of emails to Government members et al in 2013). Good news 12/3/17 The Sunday Times: “Ex-Davy brokers spend e40 million on Georgian Homes”

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The Sunday Times:  12th May 2017

Today’s newspapers tell us some people see the opportunities in the property markets during crisis periods.  They swoop in; they gain and ultimately people gain, until the next property collapse.

LAREA FA is an investment company.  Two former Davy stockbrokers gained financial backing from the international investment fund – Bain Capital.  They have bought 25 Georgian houses in Dublin in less than a year, according to the article in today’s Sunday Times by Brian Carey.  The plan is to acquire another 20 Georgian properties.  Presently LAREA FA are refurbishing and modernising the former bedsits (they bought pre-1963 properties).  This is an article worth reading.  LAREA FA intend to have a portfolio of more than 200 apartment.  (Dermot Desmond’s QED is involved in this deal.  Peter Horgan and Tom Cahill are the two former Davy executives who are spearheading this interesting project.

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Wednesday, January 1st 2014 18:16

Subject: Dublin City Council also provided loans to borrowers for housing; by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and derelictions
Date: Wed, 01 Jan 2014 18:16:46 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Email address list
Dublin City Council also provided loans to borrowers for housing;

 by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and derelictions

 

2014 is the year of enforced resolutions and closure for many people caught in the Celtic Tiger housing trap of negative equity, job losses (either or or both), emigration. The legislation is approved. The Banks have been told to engage with their clients, particularly those in mortgage arrears of greater than 90 days, on a case by case basis. The objective is to reach a suitable arrangement. There are options in place but when examined they tend to be token gestures without the motivation and effect to create viable solutions for people who are in debt that they will never be able to repay.

Private Equity firms are hovering and Ireland is a neat market especially for American companies like Blackstone, the largest landlord of properties in the US. Wall Street is in the driving seat again but this time there is a new market in town and that is companies like Blackstone taking control of the private rental market through purchase of ‘delinquent mortgage’ properties, in particular apartments blocks under the name of multi-family units. Media sends out the message of pay your rent to Wall Street and given the global perspective of banking, this too applies to the people in Ireland. The new landlordism is that of the corporates, the private equity groups, those who can create the entity that will apply the economies of scale that will drive up their profits. NAMA is our marketing tool and it is the strategic mover that determines when its stock of ‘delinquent developer led’ borrowers will be placed on the market. The timing is the question and if we listen to Bloomberg we are told the housing markets kicked into gear in the US in 2011.

What happens now for Ireland?

100,000 people are supposedly on the housing list in need of social housing. The question is now what will Dublin City Council choose to do? Is there a supply of property available and being gathered up by these private equity firms so that Dublin City Council can divest further of its responsibilities to the new entity, companies like Blackstone, Kennedy Wilson, Comer Brothers. We have interesting times ahead.

New Year’s Eve is not the time to be reading the newspapers but Olivia Kelly has a most interesting piece in the Irish Times about Dublin City Council ‘carrying mortgage arrears of e13 million plus on home loans’.

The question is about the Council being able to continue to adhere to its capacity to provide mortgages to borrowers. It is more interesting to note that the Council has repossessed 85 houses, two thirds of which were abandoned. The criteria for a Dublin City Council loans was that two banks had refused to give the mortgage.

Dublin City Council and the provision of loans would seem to be a flawed model too. They have 2709 mortgagees on their book, (small by comparison to the banks) who owe over e340 million in borrowings. In 2007 the records show that they were able to collect 92% of what was owed to them but this dropped to 60% by October of this year. What we learn from the article is that they know that it is 539 mortgage holders who are more than a year in arrears. The concerning part of this equation is that they are unsure if they will continue to be a lender and we do not know what their plans are for the provision of housing to meet the needs of so many people who are on the social housing list or destined for it this year, in the absence of their abilities to meet their loans for their existing homes.

We can all think of some family this Christmas who were caught in the Celtic Tiger ‘Trap’. Where will they be next Christmas because definitely 2014 is about the writing on the wall? We need a plan, we need to know the options for people to avoid anymore undue stress. We owe billions of euros but sometimes the only sensible way to tackle debt is to write it down. Iceland tackled their crisis in a different to Ireland, we need to ask can we learn anything from them. The write-down of e28,000 per home could be an option in Ireland, if the powers that be would only agree.
Michelle Clarke

Monday 27th January, 2014

Subject: Do you know who Blackstone are? Burlington is now Double Tree. Watch this space, by Blake – Urban abandonments and dereliction Mon Jan 27, 2014 16:35
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2014 18:21:26 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke <michelleclarke@upcmail.ie>
To: avine.mcnally@sfa.ie, Clare Daly <Clare.Daly@Oireachtas.ie>, jan.osullivan@oireachtas.ie
Do you know who Blackstone are?  The Burlington Hotel is now Double Tree.

Watch this space

by Michelle Clarke Blake – Urban abandonments and dereliction 

Fred: to follow on. You are absolutely right.

NAMA one of the biggest (omerta governed) entities has the power to shift trends in how the plain ordinary people of Ireland relate to home ownership now and in the future.

5 years and the banks, the legislation (ISI), the Central Bank, the Troika, have strategically positioned themselves so that they determine when the properties (soon to be for sale) enter the marketplace. The time appears to be now. NAMA we are told has handled its commercial portfolios in a most satisfactory way so now it is time for homes, buy-to-lets, and investment properties to find their level in the market place.

We are told prices are rising in Dublin and this maybe so. However, we need to take account of repossessions that are now taking place and will be taking place more frequently from now on. We need to ask the question will our banks follow the path of the US bankers who rather than rent out properties, instead they hold stock. If this is happening in Ireland, then this could be a part ripple that is leading to manipulation of the Dublin market supply and demand.

Home ownership and Ireland is a changing trend. It would be interesting to find out if some of the worst affected ie ‘delinquent borrowers’ by the slump in the market and negative equity were divorcees or in second relationships. In England there is an interesting trend which finds that a combination of high rents (already occurring in Ireland) and over-40’s having to return to the flat sharing market. If the divorcee trend impacted on the swell of house purchases in the noughties, then we can assume that these same people, if their financial circumstances altered, are in negative equity and if they were unfortunate enough to lose their jobs also, will be the people most likely to be evicted as the banks are forced by Central Bank and the Troika (now exited) to meet targets to be achieved in 2014. If this is the case, there is a new market for the people to be evicted, those on the social housing list, those looking for a place to live and this ‘Flatsharing websites’. Ireland has one advantage over this market in that there is a tax advantage of £10,000 approximately if you provide a room in your home to a third party.

Urban abandonments deserves resonance here. They talk about smart cities, sustainable cities. Dublin has the vacant properties dotted throughout which are in need of renovation. This site identifies areas like Ranelagh, Rathmines, Rathgar, North Circular Road, Mountjoy Square …. our inner hub of potential. Who owns the vacant houses? Who owns the many houses where people live in bedsits with as many as 10 or more people sharing the house? These are the potential slums. The architects who are unemployed need the challenge now to come forward with re-design options which take account of making the properties ‘smart’ utilising the sunlight for energy and basically making these properties sustainable. Many of these properties can be redesigned into apartments. For this to happen, there needs to be policy and legislation. Sometimes a recession bites so deep that the people lose sight of the market and miss the opportunities. Now is the time to become aware as the private equity groups especially from America hover over our distressed marketplace.

Great piece by Peter Flanagan (Commercial Property) Sunday Independent 26th January 2014. Look out for the name Blackstone and Stephen Schwarzman (a Bill Gates/Warren Buffet visionary).

Blackstone Group – the New York based firm led by Stephen Schwarzman – has raised a fund worth some $5.5 bn (E4.1 bn) to buy European commercial real estate and it is expected that much of that fund will be used to buy property here.


……….Blackstone is the biggest real estate investor in the world and it specialises in distressed assets, whether they have been over leveraged or over financed.

Blackstone have arrived and it is watch this space time. In the US they are changing investment strategies and are buying up houses, apartments, in fact they have the new additional to what was Wall Street’s sub-prime gamble and are becoming landlords backed by Wall Street bonds.

The changing face of Ireland is happening now. Blackstone have made their mark in the purchase of the Burlington Hotel (established by PV Doyle), Dublin 4 and changing its name to Double Tree. The purchase price in 2012 was 67 m euros, a snip. Already they have made their mark, there is a resounding presence of being a market changer virtually overnight.

The Platinum portfolio is the recent purchase from NAMA.

2014 looks like they will see a lot more of Blackstone and other private equity groups. Let’s hope some Irish developers return to the market.


April 8th, 2014

“Same old 1840’s oppression” letter – Irish Independent page 34

by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban Abandonments and Dereliction

President Michael D. Higgins has dined with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle and the metaphorical bridge brings the furtherance of the Peace Process another step further.

There are too many people who have little rights to know what will happen to their ‘homes’. Private equity ethos is driven naturally by return on investment and that involves income roll and profit but uncertainty for those with mortgages related to their homes.

“The international and Wall Street bankers are the absentee landlords still able to suck the blood of the timid. The havoc they caused in America and beyond was pure evil, yet none of them were ever charged with fraud”.

We know that the 13,000 loans sold on at a substantial discount to Oak Tree & Lone Star private equity groups who are not banks and will not be bound by the Central Bank code of conduct; and we also know that there was a substantial discount given to these purchasers, an option which was not given to the individual home owners. What we also know is that thes

Unsure about the protocol of copying a letter printed in today’s Irish Independent, I will quote some and contextualise more, because the timing could not be more appropriate. The letter is written by Patrick Burns, Ontario, Canada and for due consideration the heading reads as follows:

“Same old 1840’s Oppression”

So much has been written on this citizen journalism site and in the media particularly over the last six years of the Troika led (EU ECB IMF) Austerity programme, it is time to consider if the landscape of the 1840’s has once again visited the people of the Republic of Ireland.

It is no longer the “landlord agents” who collected the rents for the landlords in the 1840’s. Now Ireland is prey to the private equity firms (vultures) that see ripe pickings and who are rapidly buying up Irish properties ie apartments, houses, multi-family units, hotels, commercial units – the key word being ‘distressed’ and therefore the implication is uncertainty for those who are in debt to the banks and the mortgage lenders. Now the new landlords ie the private equity firms like Oak Tree; Loan Star, Kennedy Wilson, Cerberus etc and their operators eg Pepper have arrived in Ireland and they are the new owners of properties. In this case, especially in the last number of weeks when IBRC dictates the pace and NAMA considers the market timing right – change of ownership is actively being

These home owners like so many more do not know what the future holds for them. These are people who invested money in deposits, equity, the acceptance of the home ownership credo fostered in Ireland and England that promised to endorse those who choose to own their homes by mortgages for periods of 25 years or more. The rug has been pulled back and now there are ever increasing numbers of people who will effectively become tenants in their homes with no potential for ownership. For many, the new Landlords will be linked to Wall Street investment banker vision of new markets yielding higher profits. For a reality check it is worth noting the latest drive in the US is to buy mobile home parks and train people who live in these ‘excluded’ communities to run the parks while the profits roll in for the landlords ie all related to Wall Street and investment potential.

To return to the letter:

“The politicians today are the small farmers of old, who exported their produce while their cousins starved to death. The Garda are no different than their RIC counterparts – all Irishmen, who see injustices every day yet do very little. The Lawyers are the Lords, the starving peasantry are the unemployed……”

The letter ends: “This time, we can’t blame the English”

The metaphorical bridge: Martin McGuinness, you proceeded with dignity and courage. Unfortunately Lord Tebbit lost sight to bitterness in his comment but we can make allowances because his wife suffered and he failed to learn humility and understanding.

End:


27th July, 2014 16:35

Do you know who Blackstone are? The Burlington Hotel, Dublin 4, is now Double Tree. Watch this space

by Michelle Clarke (Blake) – Urban abandonments and dereliction

Fred: to follow on. You are absolutely right.

NAMA https://www.nama.ie/ one of the biggest (omerta governed) entities has the power to shift trends in how the plain ordinary people of Ireland relate to home ownership now and in the future.

5 years and the banks, the legislation (ISI), the Central Bank, the Troika, have strategically positioned themselves so that they determine when the properties (soon to be for sale) enter the marketplace. The time appears to be now. NAMA we are told has handled its commercial portfolios in a most satisfactory way so now it is time for homes, buy-to-lets, and investment properties to find their level in the market place.

We are told prices are rising in Dublin and this maybe so. However, we need to take account of repossessions that are now taking place and will be taking place more frequently from now on. We need to ask the question will our banks follow the path of the US bankers who rather than rent out properties, instead they hold stock. If this is happening in Ireland, then this could be a part ripple that is leading to manipulation of the Dublin market supply and demand.

Home ownership and Ireland is a changing trend. (It would be interesting to find out if some of the worst affected ie ‘delinquent borrowers’ by the slump in the market and negative equity, were divorcees or in second relationships.) In England there is an interesting trend which finds that a combination of high rents (already occurring in Ireland) and over-40’s having to return to the flat sharing market. If the divorcee trend impacted on the swell of house purchases in the noughties, then we can assume that these same people, if their financial circumstances altered, are in negative equity and if they were unfortunate enough to lose their jobs also, will be the people most likely to be evicted as the banks are forced by Central Bank and the Troika (now exited) to meet targets to be achieved in 2014. If this is the case, there is a new market for the people to be evicted, those on the social housing list, those looking for a place to live, we need to establish alternative sources of accommodation including ‘Flatsharing websites’. Ireland has one advantage over this market in that there is a tax advantage of £10,000 approximately if you provide a room in your home to a third party.

Urban abandonments deserves resonance here. They talk about smart cities, sustainable cities. Dublin has the vacant properties dotted throughout which are in need of renovation. This site identifies areas like Ranelagh, Rathmines, Rathgar, North Circular Road, Mountjoy Square …. our inner hub of potential. Who owns the vacant houses? Who owns the many houses where people live in bedsits with as many as 10 or more people sharing the house? These are the potential slums. The architects who are unemployed need the challenge now to come forward with re-design options which take account of making the properties ‘smart’ utilising the sunlight for energy and basically making these properties sustainable. Many of these properties can be redesigned into apartments. For this to happen, there needs to be policy and legislation. Sometimes a recession bites so deep that the people lose sight of the market and miss the opportunities. Now is the time to become aware as the private equity groups especially from America hover over our distressed marketplace.

Great piece by Peter Flanagan (Commercial Property) Sunday Independent 26th January 2014. Look out for the name Blackstone and Stephen Schwarzman (a Bill Gates/Warren Buffet visionary).

Blackstone Group – the New York based firm led by Stephen Schwarzman – has raised a fund worth some $5.5 bn (E4.1 bn) to buy European commercial real estate and it is expected that much of that fund will be used to buy property here.

……….Blackstone is the biggest real estate investor in the world and it specialises in distressed assets, whether they have been over leveraged or over financed.

Blackstone have arrived and it is watch this space time. In the US they are changing investment strategies and are buying up houses, apartments, in fact they have the new addition to what was Wall Street’s sub-prime gamble and are becoming landlords backed by Wall Street bonds.

The changing face of Ireland is happening now. Blackstone have made their mark in the purchase of the Burlington Hotel (established by PV Doyle), Dublin 4 and changing its name to Double Tree. The purchase price in 2012 was 67 m euros, a snip. Already they have made their mark, there is a resounding presence of being a market changer virtually overnight.

The Platinum portfolio is the recent purchase from NAMA. https://costarfinance.com/tag/platinum-portfolio/

2014 looks like they will see a lot more of Blackstone and other private equity groups. Let’s hope some Irish developers return to the market.

End


Year 2013 – selection of emails written to Government members et al


25th January 2013

Subject: Olivia O’Leary RTE Drivetime, by  Michelle Clarke (Chestnut)  – Urban abandonments & dereliction
Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2013 00:27:17 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <Alan.Shatter@oireachtas.ie>, alex.white@oir.ie, colm.mccarthy@ucd.ie, director@architecturefoundation.ie, Cahill Gavin <Gavin.Cahill@centralbank.ie>, John Corrigan <JCorrigan@ntma.ie>, Daly Myles <myles.daly@centralbank.ie>

Olivia O’Leary  RTE Drivetime

Urban abandonments & dereliction

by Michelle Clarke

At last some real common sense is spoken on the airwaves. We can only agree with Olivia’s words to those who make decisions in Leinster house and urge them to drop the spin doctors and take a walk outside to meet the people, to listen to their stories, to see the shops that have been closed. Olivia O’Leary graphically described the walk out down Molesworth Street (past that Namatised Buswells hotel), into Dawson Street and to what once was the Bond Street of Dublin, Grafton Street, now in tatters with closures of businesses and the air of fear of more to close and no hope. This is the year of the Gathering and yet Dublin, our Capital city, is not meeting market expectations of the people who will visit this Island. Why? Short-sightedness and the crazy upward only reviews that finally forced Korky’s to withdraw from their 900 sq ft business in Grafton Street.

Donal O’Donovan comments in today’s Independent about ‘Upward Only’ leases. This clarifies the up-to-date status and enables people to understand and seek redress. Before the election, it was both sides of the coalition who spoke out against these leases and promised a ban on same. The election promises were to scrap such ‘upward only’ clauses in leases but the all-out ban was scrapped on the advise of the Attorney General who said such a move would be unconstitutional. So what can people do about this now!

The question we now ask is what about a sense of morality amongst landlords. There is the human factor and the ability to concede and compromise for the public good. Apparently, already the State does cut rents for some of its tenants. The businesses that have sought cheaper rents from NAMA have negotiated cuts. This exemplary behaviour should inspire all landlords where possible to re negotiate more favourable rents. What is disappointing is that Minister Coveney’s department are still using ‘upward only’ leases – and it is reported that in those election days the same Mr Coveney was an ‘outspoken critic of upward only rents’. According to the O’Donovan article: “All leases issued in respect of properties in the six Fishery Harbour Centres…contain what are referered to as ‘upward only’ rent review clauses” (a statement by the Agriculture and Fisheries government department).

Too many businesses are being driven out of the marketplace these days. It takes only a short period of time for dereliction, wastage, loss of soul to enter communities and Ireland is an Island of communities where each needs to maintain a status quo that inspires people to create markets, to persevere and generate employment that drives the economic growth. Too often short-sightedness leads a struggling company to falter where an additional period in business would be to its benefit. Rents are crippling. Communities need to interact and discuss how penal some landlords are in their drive for earnings and as in the case of Korky’s, the landlord is the like of Canada Life who probably have held their assets for decades and achieved both asset growth and income growth. They should be willing to show a sense of moral justice in the absence of an amendment to leases which is deemed unconstitutional by our Attorney General.

Michelle Clarke (Chestnut)

PS:  Why are NAMA not using twitter to market their properties. Twitter is effective and global


 6th February 2013

Subject: You don’t have to be rich to care for people and to own our country, by  Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban Abandonments and dereliction.  Is it not time for NAMA to use TWITTER as marketing tool!
Date: Wed, 06 Feb 2013 18:55:19 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <Alan.Shatter@oireachtas.ie>, alex.white@oireachtas.ie, dublin@arup.com, fmorton@gordonbrothers.com, patrick.honohan@tcd.ie
You don’t have to be rich to care for people and to own our country
Is it not time for NAMA to use TWITTER as marketing tool!

 by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban Abandonments and dereliction 

Upward only rents now have the answer. Prime buildings in strategic locations are being sold at knock-down prices, ousting Irish ownership in many cases to that of the newly created Creditor country named Germany, the Germany that merged with their World War II cessation of East Germany to create the entity, Germany, yes so flush with funds. Meanwhile, we one of the debtor countries are the victim of what could be termed an economic war of the 21 century. It would suggest that some of our landlords failed to be moral (and rested on Attorney General decision) and left rents so high that people were forced out of the premises. Now these are the properties that are for sale at huge discount and the purchasers are those private equity groups, the Germans and no doubt there will be Russians, Chinese and people from India too. We are not complaining about the diversity but we are asking landlords to reconsider their rents and be fair and help businesses to survive this crisis and create employment, fair employment, for the people of Ireland. John Lewis is an interesting company with a policy of Corporate Social Responsibility and a motto ‘Never knowingly undersold’ who are supposed to be considering purchasing a shop in Dublin and these, like Boots and M&S we would welcome. Maybe they would consider a public private partnership with Baggot Street Community Hospital, if only it was for sale.

We don’t have to be rich, in fact we know the morals of those who were the Celtic Tiger rich and we can now with the benefit of hindsight create the new model of Ireland Inc with the views of the plain people of Ireland contributing to Ireland’s rebirth, and in particular now as we approach 2016 the anniversary of the Rising that led to Independence of the 26 counties and then in 1998 to the Good Friday Agreement. We are on a bridge and we are possibly mid-way, we can retreat, or we can create and move forward again, as we have done so many times over the centuries.

Grafton Street had become so shoddy recently. Shops are closed down and others are struggling to stay open. Grafton Street is Dublin’s equivalent to Bond Street – not anymore. It is worth listening to Olivia O’Leary’s podcast of the drivetime programme a week ago. Grafton Street has become our cinderella. The Times today informs us that 2 of the architecturally splendid Grafton Street shops have sold for 65% below the 2007 price. It is a German fund manager called GLL Real Estate who has bought these jewels for a fraction of what they are worth. The fund is to pay £40 million for River Island and the adjoining Wallis outlet (just beside Weirs). David Daly bought this for £115 million in 2007.

Quote: Jack Fagan
Irish Times
‘The latest off market sale means the German fund is now one of the largest property owners on the city’s premier shopping street’.

It bought the AIB branch for near £28 million (sale and lease-back deal) with a return of 6%. It is estimated that the River Island/Wallis deal will yield 6.85%. What a pity all our entrepreneurs are being priced out of our own country?

Anonymous: Enforcement and fines of £5,000 will dictate hardship for 9,000 people (and more than likely many more) living in potential tenements in areas like Rathmines, Ranelagh, Mountjoy Square, when this new law comes into effect this week. We need provision of proper accommodation and we need a plan to maintain our Georgian and Victorian housing but in a way and (without the red tape) so that it provides homes for people and especially for our vulnerable people.

The time is now for people to share and care. We must say No to Germany’s economic invasion and most definitely no to this promissory note of £3.1 billion. Germany has lots of bank assets and the EU has it is said as much as £33.9 trillion while America has £8 trillion. The time is now for the EU to be generous with its funds and to treat Ireland in an equitable way.

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)


 February 12th, 2013

 

Subject: Integrity to Integration (Response to Architect: Contribution to Monopoly NAMA (that is not yet on twitter), by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and dereliction
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2013 18:15:35 +0000
From:
To: Alan Shatter <Alan.Shatter@oireachtas.ie>, colm.mccarthy@ucd.ie, director@architecturefoundation.ie, eamon.gilmore@oireachtas.ie, patrick.honohan@tcd.ie

Integrity to Integration (Response to Architect: Contribution to Monopoly NAMA (that is not yet on twitter)

  by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments 

David.
Architect: no doubt feeling the pain of the recession when there are virtually no houses being built, renovated, plans required and otherwise. This may be a presumption on my part but inherent in your writing is that derived from your personal experience of being part, in the profession of architecture, of that transition from boom to bust. Sub-Urban – what a neat way of creating the visual in one’s mind. Urban abandonments in earlier postings and the initial posting uploaded photos of what is happening to our country, and you have given us a history of how it came about with that non factor of production called Profit driving people to take risks with no interest.

Fingleton and Irish Nationwide was reported on the TV last night. The Ernst and Young report which was commissioned is damning highlighting loose management structures, lacking in computer skills and and virtually no paperwork. It also highlighted the warning signs stated by the KPMG report published almost 10 years ago. We know the outcome Fingleton – got the bonus of £1m and the gold watch. He promised to return same but now states that a Government Official in high office made promises. This man is one of the few elites that were created and who tried to destroy our country. The question now is neatly summed up in the George Santayana quotation ‘those who forget history are condemned to repeat it’ and we have the knowledge, we have the experience, we know what tenement Dublin and other cities created, we know about Moyross, the gang wars, and what we need to do is prevent this social deprivation descending further to the degree it is in many European cities where they are now congregating groups of people in what are known as scum estates. Those who fail to observe the rules of society are evicted and sent to these locations. Do we want this to happen? Can we prevent it? Do we want vigilantes?

NAMA is “It” now. The Troika are putting the boot into our Central Bank Governor and the message is loud and clear. Your banks are shirking their responsibilities. They gained from financial flows and the intention was to create employment ultimately but they have failed dismally. They have taken the money, invested no doubt at favourable rates in the ECB and meantime back in Ireland the crisis looms. The buy-to-lets, the sites without planning permission, the vacant Georgian and period houses in bedsits now subject to fine of £5,000, the ghost estates, the over subscribed apartment market (with the whole of issue of management fees a problem yet to destroy morale further), the myriad of country estates restored and now Namatised as hotel/golf courses, the mansions of the developers so lurid with excess, are like a volcano ready to erupt causing massive social injustice in our society and the irony is that the same people who created the boom are the cause of the massive hardship now entrenched and who are once again coming down the track.

What can we do? Well Mr Architect if you were part of the construction of the boom, what can you contribute to Nama? You seem to have identified the problem at the time. You noi doubt have experience and abilities that NAMA should be able to use and maybe you would be willing to work for them at a considerably lower rate than the people who worked for the now to be liquidated Ex Anglo Irish Bank / Irish Nationwide building society which morphed to IRBC. The early days of NAMA and IBRC according to the figures in the papers paid excessive amounts to people who were evidently the boys in the know. We need to stop this rot. We need to look at cost benefit analysis of ‘PEOPLE’. We want to know whether ‘Chinese Walls’ really apply within these newly constructed entities, now consolidated to Monopoly status ie IBRC liquidated. NAMA in many ways resembles the Land Commission, yes another time when landowners with their encumbered estates in return for small amounts handed over the land for re-distribution to the Irish post the Treaty 1921.

Now NAMA is the revolving door only this time it is not the Anglo-Irish who are bankrupted, it is that new breed who are to be stripped bare and it is the Troika that are calling the tune and the melody is Banks look to your books, look at the numbers in arrears, start procedure to repossess with near immediate effect otherwise the targets which will be set by the Central Bank will be applied. NAMA is moving to first gear, it has gained its experience on the commercial side, so beware to those unable to pay mortgages, buy-to-lets, holiday homes, or houses you bought instead of pension funds.

Mr Architect: 450,000 people are unemployed and yet there are people paid massive salaries and there is no real transparency. They say developers were retained by NAMA to enhance prospects of selling commercial undertakings. Now, Nama assumes a new role but this time it is the non transparent monopoly and we need people who understand and who have vision to create the alternatives we need. The IFSC was vision and we need a vision now. The foregoing postings show the direction downwards. We need people to address the problems.

NAMA must become more transparent. They are going to force people into eviction. We the ordinary people want to know that provision is made for families/home owners, that there are alternatives for example as suggested by David McWilliams a form of debt swap. Like minds need to come together and need to work with NAMA. They need to have a social entrepreneurship drive that merges the new insolvency legislation option with the best alternative for people taking account of their capacity to earn a fair wage. It is time now, especially in this housing dynamic, that ‘water will find its own level’ with equality and integrity at the core.

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)


Wed February 13th, 2013 15:19

Subject: Mr Architect: ‘Not All’. What about those who eloped to become near immediate bankrupts? by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and dereliction
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2013 18:59:13 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <Alan.Shatter@oireachtas.ie>, Eamon.OCuiv@oireachtas.ie, eamon.gilmore@oireachtas.ie, michael.noonan@oireachtas.ie, Cllr Maria Parodi <maria.parodi@dublincity.ie>

Mr Architect: ‘Not All’.

What about those who eloped to become near immediate bankrupts?

by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and dereliction

Today, Mr Architect, I am going to heed what you have said and I am going to target Mr Central Bank Governor, Patrick Honohan. Why because I have read his “Speech” in the weekly edition of the Sunday Business Post. The title alone states Change is ahead. There are no examples to follow. “The Unprecedented financial distress’ speech by Mr Honohan will send shivers up the spines of those who are blighted by the property deluge created by the Celtic Tiger and added to by the global financial crisis. What we need to grasp is that there are in existence extraordinary rates of arrears where people are failing to service their mortgages/debts and in particular where homes are owner occupied.

Mr Honohan states that while most borrowers continue to service their loans that the general proposition is summed up in a quote from a recent authority on the need for debtor-friendly insolvency arrangements: “debtors should fulfill their obligations if at all possible, and freedom from legitimately incurred obligations is a privilege, potentially subject to abuse, that therefore should be a carefully guarded last resort”. What this is saying is that debt forgiveness has a strong moral component. If there is to be long-term debt modification that involves permanent debt relief related to the arrears, it will only apply for cases of over indebtedness involving or bordering on insolvency. The train is now on the tracks – Insolvency legislation is due to be in place by April and the Troika via our Central Bank is stoking the fires for action by our banks with time-tables, targets and action driven.

Mr Honohan goes on to say that to date the banks have dealt with the loans crisis using two devices: a) capitalisation of arrears b) a temporary interest only payment schedule. This buys cash flow for some people only but for others if they move off schedule and the spiral of debt returns, then something else needs to be done.

Mr Architect: I think you could interact now because it seems apparent that debt-wise related to property, Ireland Inc is now in unchartered territory. Embracing change and moving people who once worked in the private sector into the like of NAMA is part of the new remedy which is only presently being drafted. To quote Mr. Honohan “What is the best way of operationalising better decision rules for banks enabling and impelling them to triage the loans that are unsustainable from those that can come back on track?” Your vast experience as an architect and your ideas re Sub-Urban imply the loss of the social element of the property transactions that must now form part of what is known as social entrepreneurship and the revival of a sense of hope going forward.

Connecticut, America. This week there is a court case. NAMA sues Sean Dunne but this clever property magician has played a hand of cards that puts his property Irish speculative brain into that of his columnist wife and re-plays the game but in America. He now lives in an elitist enclosure with rent in excess of US£20,000 per month, having ventured into speculative property transactions which it appears have created profits. The US courts have to decide either in favour of NAMA or Dunne’s wife, Gayle. These are the larger stakes that NAMA must play out and invariably in foreign courts and at phenomenal costs. This means we need to ask the question as to what happens now post the liquidation of IBRC? What will happen for instance re the Quinn group? NAMA now becomes the monolith, the monopoly driver to resolution but people have a responsibility to be informed to keep informed and ensure that there is transparency, no insider dealing, court resolution if there is, and keep making demands that developers who breached our laws pay the full cost or at least are disciplined via bankruptcy under the new Personal Insolvency Act. We need a clear picture.

Stormy seas ahead and we will all know people who are indebted. Earlier postings suggested that those who had bought properties since 2006 and paid excessively high stamp duty should petition the Government for repayment of stamp duty appear to have had no support. The banks should have supported their mortgage holders in this request. A repayment of say £60,000 stamp duty off capital would delete some people at least from the crisis status of the Personal Insolvency Act. After all some banks have begun to think creatively and they will re-structure the loan, taking responsibility for waving credit card debts, credit union loans, car loans etc.

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)


February 21st, 2013

 

Subject: His Master’s Voice no more. Jobs lost yet again, by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and dereliction publication date Thu Feb 21, 2013 16:26.

NAMA should be on twitter surely!

Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2013 17:19:08 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <Alan.Shatter@oireachtas.ie>, brian.hayes@oir.ie, Conor R. Savage <CRSavage@justice.ie>, Clare Finglas <cfinglas@riai.ie>, contacts@theintelhub.com, Dymphna Moore <D.Moore@ria.ie>, director@architecturefoundation.ie, enda.kenny@oireachtas.ie <enda.kenny@oireachtas.ie>, fergus.odowd@oireachtas.ie, Cahill Gavin <Gavin.Cahill@centralbank.ie>, jan.osullivan@oireachtas.ie, Jimmy Deenihan <jimmy.deenihan@oireachtas.ie>

His Master’s Voice no more. Jobs lost yet again,

NAMA should be on twitter surely!

by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and dereliction.

The Duke of Leinster is reputed to have said about his move from Northside Dublin to Southside Dublin – Where “I” go fashion will follow and yes it did. It was the like of the splendid designs of Mountjoy Square, Belvedere Place, Summerhill, North Frederick Street that were vacated by the wealthy and became the slums of Dublin as families lived in single rooms. The pre-63 bedsits are remnants of those days of sheer poverty and non provision by the State that are now to be phased out ie if the Government persist and fine landlords (£5,000) for not providing adequate sanitary amenities for each bedsit in these old Georgian/Victorian homes. Already, landlords have these Pre-63 properties for sale, especially those who don’t wish to engage with the legislation. However, we are told that the housing list is now approaching 100,000, and it seems incredibly unlikely that provision is made for people living in these properties for many years, probably in receipt of rent allowance, often with disabilities. We need to look around us, be it Rathmines-D6, Elgin Road-Dublin 4, North Circular Road. There are many people living in fear and vulnerable. We all need to be aware of this.

His Master’s Voice: The record and the marketing. The old gramaphone and the Jack Russell listening with intent. HMV failed to keep ahead of the markets and it is now financially challenged and Grafton Street has lost one of its anchor retail outlets. Not alone is the HMV shop gone but there are now seven vacant retail outlets closed between it and the St. Stephen’s Green shopping centre. We hear Government talking about “the Gathering 2013” and one can only ask them to listen to the Drivetime programme and Olivia O’Leary’s rendition of what has happened to our once charming city and her request for some of the minister’s to walk out of Government buildings up Molesworth Street, into Dawson Street, Sth Anne Street and to Grafton Street. I would add to this for them to look at O’Connell Street, one of the widest streets of the capitals in Europe. It is great to invite people to our country but we do need to impress them when they visit and more so if we ask our diaspora to return, we need to be able to show them improvement, culture, warmth when they return. O’Connell Street needs to invoke the necessity for us to look upwards and witness the architecture that once existed while to look at ground level, there are just tacky often fast food outlet doorways destroying the potential of our city.

Enthusiasm and adventure is needed. We need some visionaries to inspire us. Temple Bar and the IFSC challenged the 1980’s recession but now we need to develop some alternatives. Who can lead us in this direction? Why not look to our war-torn world and promote Ireland as a country which has step by step over the decades created a Republic with recognition of the Good Friday Agreement to the Peace Process. There is an impressive transition that resounds Peace, not war.

The news about NAMA is not all bad. There is some progress or so it seems from today’s Irish Independent. Those developers in NAMA who thought they could avoid paying their debts by switching assets into the names of their wives’ and children have been scuttled. ‘NAMA is now confident that it will secure legal rights or security over £750m of additional property assets controlled by its debtors that were not not secured when loans were transferred to the agency (NAMA) from the banks’. To secure legal charges over assets makes it easier to seize and sell off property if debts owed to NAMA are not repaid. As much as two thirds of the increase is expected as NAMA identifies previously debt-free/”unencumbered” owned by some 80 developers with debts to the agency. Once these assets are identified, it is up to NAMA to establish a legal claim or charge thereby giving them rights over the properties. The remaining one third is concerned with reversing “asset transfers” most notably in the period post 2008 and before the transfer of the bank loans to NAMA in 2010.

NAMA is a creation that must be about transparency. We need to know what it is doing at all times. There needs to be a cost benefit analysis because this belies an important function to cut the deficit Ireland Inc. owes, in as progressive a way possible. This is just a question: Is their (NAMA’s) performance good enough? Last year, 50 NAMA linked developers out of 188 (those with the biggest debts) made transfers (37 of which were made at the request of NAMA). Does anyone know the position re Sean Dunne and his wife in Connecticut? What about Michael Lynn who escaped by having a child in Brazil so no extradition? Those who escaped Irish bankruptcy who fled to the UK for better terms? The Irish Nationwide Chief Executive who chooses not even to return the £1 m bonus he promised and for that matter the watch. Simply: Ireland needs to work both sides of the balance sheet. We need to tackle expenditure but more importantly we need to collect as much money that is due also. To the Law Society: what is your level of transparency about errant solicitors? To the auditors – what have you to say?

Michelle Clarke


 3rd March 2013

Subject: Fatigue destroys potential by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Observer. Excerpt from citizen journalism publication ‘Urban abandonments & dereliction’
Date: Sun, 03 Mar 2013 20:02:09 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: brian.hayes@oir.ie, catherine.byrne@oireachtas.ie, clyde.carroll@dublincitybid.ie, Byrne, Daryl <Daryl.Byrne@ise.ie>, greenerhomes <greenerhomes@seai.ie>, greenerhomes <greenerhomes@sei.ie>, jkennedy@siliconrepublic.com, press@centralbank.ie, Kevin Myers <riga.kevin@gmail.com>, Vincent Browne <vincent.browne@tv3.ie>

Fatigue destroys potential

Urban Abandonments and dereliction

 by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Observer 

 

David the architect versus the plasterer. Is it not time to let bygones be just that? 5 years on and the blame game has become so entrenched that fatigue and apathy are destroying the Island of Ireland. This is an economic war and while Ireland could remain neutral during the World Wars we succeeded in being a core component of the economic war waged by the rot and sub-prime disaster;  the reckless behaviour of our Central Bank banks and bankers; add to this banking speculation, contracts for difference, the heady power of the Maple 10, the developers, we were forced to hand over our economic sovereignty to the Troika. However, we differ from the other peripheral countries because we are deemed to have been restrained and even exemplary!

What can we learn from history:- There is an old Co Clare saying that ‘After a gatherer comes a scatterer’ to be followed by another ‘castle’s falling but dung hill’s rising’. Extremes but therein is a little wisdom. Where are we now? Who are the gatherers? Perhaps the real gatherers are now going to step in. Could it possibly be that there could be a social distribution of power as the people who buy up the negative equity property will dilute from the elites that smothered our little country and then abandoned it to become bankruptcy exiles abroad.

Is there hope? Mr Architect and Mr Plasterer, you both experienced the property industry, you worked, maybe you gambled, maybe you have debts but don’t let the apathy and fatigue put you on the back foot. Change is in the making. The Troika are kicking the Government and the Central Bank into first gear, immediate action is the battle cry and the banks are being told get paid what is your due or else evict those people who over extended on mortgages irrespective on what excuses they put forward. The time is here for those people who have been put on the racks by lenders to draft their balance sheets, look at their debts and work out a game plan. Meantime, NAMA as the sole co-ordinator of the property boom to bust narrative, need to be forced into a more transparent organisation with a creativity to help people to become employed (and not under-employed) if needs be so that they can meet their mortgage commitments. We did it before thanks to the vision of Charles Haughey, Dermot Desmond, Harry Crosbie and others, we can surely come up with another vision now.

There are people out there taking these opportunities now. The timing is now. How many people out there are part of the what if’s. I am. Allsop sold properties yesterday – location the Shelbourne of course and there are plenty of people with vision willing to take chances and buy at knockdown prices. My choice (in my dreams, but then I am a Dublin person and would not leave) was the bargain of the day. A refurbished former convent in Eyrecout, Co. Galway owned by Roger Whittaker and it was bought for a mere £285,000 by a person on the internet from the UK. This person could even be part of our diaspora but what a dream home with its own recording studio and a two bedroom apartment attached and 4 reception rooms. Sterling buys euros so the price is a lot cheaper!

Others gained too: A father a three sons bought 10 unit housing estate in Co Leitrim for £250,000.

An angler in Co. Galway bought a B&B (Potorra Lodge) in Moycullen for £267,000. Mr Canney was the manager but now he is the owner and who best to assess the potential of the area and how to tap the European angling market. He said he was prepared to pay double the price.

Herbert Street so close to the Fine Gael offices on Upper Mount Street and adjacent to Merrion Square which rumour is that it will be the Temple Bar of the southside regeneration programme, was sold for £640,000. The young man does not want to be named. Hopefully, this man will take the opportunity to create this model of a Georgian home and create a proto-type that will encourage people to return to our cities. I think this is the house that has already been divided into five floors so it could be re-created into apartments or even a nursing home encouraging our older people to live in locations where services are available. The Government should intervene with some step-down from large homes to suitable apartment living accommodation for those nearing retirement.

The auctioneers claim that it was the most properties ever sold in one day in Ireland. 115 were sold netting £13.7 m

Mr Architect and Mr Plasterer – the solution is closer than you expect. See it and create. We need craftmanship restored and what best but in restoration of properties in need of same.

Source: on request

Michelle Clarke


 March 13th, 2013

Subject: Zimbabwe & what dictatorship can do,? by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments & dereliction  Excerpt: source on request
Date: Wed, 13 Mar 2013 19:01:15 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Michelle Clarke <michelleclarke@upcmail.ie>, Alan Shatter <Alan.Shatter@oireachtas.ie>, Brian Lucey <BLUCEY@tcd.ie>, brian.hayes@oir.ie, Clare Finglas <cfinglas@riai.ie>, Dymphna Moore <D.Moore@ria.ie>, peter.mathews@oir.ie
Zimbabwe & what dictatorship can do

Urban abandonments & dereliction 

by Michelle Clarke (Comyn)

Yes, I agree with the posters…the answer with hindsight was not the seizing with violence the white farmers land.

Back to Ireland, we seriously need to take account of what austerity can do to people, to property, to our landscape, our reserves, our seas.

Grafton Street is a shambles, only a few of the relics of old decency are managing to remain in business, paying no doubt ludicrous upward only mobile rents, while so many more have gone to the Wall. Bewleys is in the courts and its profits are sliced by an upward only rent scenario that dictates they pay £1.5 million rent a year. What is worse about this is that the law at Attorney General level endorses it. A gentleman has just past me by, a tall man, a Fine Gael Politician, the navy below the knee expensive Crombie coat, the suit – the silk, the scarf and the those expensive highly polished shoes – he looked so out of place on the Grafton Street of the now, he was far better suited to Bond Street, the City or for that matter Wall Street. What has happened and why? It is the year of the Gathering and we are asking our diaspora to return and if they do we have wiped out so much of their nostalgia that is part of their homecoming.

The property tax is the latest challenge. This afternoon, Mr Noonan speaks to a press gathering about what next to expect. I wonder if we as citizens of Ireland are humbled sufficiently to our creditor dictators the Troika. At last there are rumblings from our Taoiseach while visiting Prime Minister Cameron that Ireland may have been treated by the Troika as the ‘runt’ of the litter. We know what happens to the ‘runt’. The runt is the vulnerable one and who is the least likely to survive. Unless somebody decides to assist him, he dies. Well, we need to start participating in our Civic matters in Ireland and now.

Listening to Prime Time last night, I am chilled to the marrow. A woman whose husband lost his job was unable to pay the arrears due on their home. The arrears amounted to £38,000. The woman did not mention the name of the lender (I ask why and can only assume that legal reasons pertain). The mortgage was for £169,000. The couple did all they could to retain their home, they complied with the restructuring put forward but for some reason the lenders decided that they would exercise their POWER in 2010. They evicted the family. They sold the house for less than £25,000. Please tell me this is not the last century in Ireland and the sale of the encumbered estates and that we in Ireland have banks that have common decency. This family are now paying rent for another property – they could even be paying rent allowance to live in social housing. The debt of £150,000 still is to be paid by them. Imagine! Less than £25,000. We must avoid similar cases happening now especially as the Mandarins are rolling out the property tax, and the banks are being told they must meet targets and basically evict people who are non compliant.

We need to stop and think and we need to watchful for people who are vulnerable and stressed and often unable to think straight in harrowing times of unemployment and being financially overstretched. Less than £25,000 begs the question who bought the house at such a steal and why did the lender sell it at such a substantial discount? The interesting point is that the neighbours banded together and tried to buy the house with the objective to rent it back to the family but this did not work – and we should ask why not? This is an option for people going forward and should be noted. Then it was said that the Council tried to buy the property but could not. They did not have the funds. Where is the common sense in policy? Let this be a lesson to those Mandarins in their Citadels (terminology used by Shane Ross) and let us avoid the pain and hardship and ensure policy is foresighted enough to ensure only in the most extreme of circumstances that people are evicted from their homes.

£150,000 is the amount that is outstanding to the family who are now minus their home and the lender sold their home for £25,000. This is basic maths that says this is real moral hazard but the lenders are the ones without morals here. All options must be investigated and equity is core and so is pure common sense.

Michelle Clarke


19th March 2013

Subject: Ethos unchanged in 6 years!, by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and dereliction
Date: Tue, 19 Mar 2013 18:27:23 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: michael.noonan@oireachtas.ie


Ethos unchanged in 6 years!
by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and dereliction

Your overheard conversation sums it all up. What has changed in Government? Assume the mantle but don’t change the ethos which in our case was cronyism bordering on outright corruption. Governance now dictates – earmark any human being who is already identifiable in the system, via the property tax, the latest data collection exercise done by placing the onus via self-assessment and through fear as the driver, Ireland will have citizens in polarities, those who are in the tax net and those who are completely under the radar. It is the property market that is now the instigator of creating the two tiers! The foregoing postings show us the methods that will be used. Georgian houses in Waterford and Limerick will be brought into the loop if people decide to accept the tax breaks and conditions. The Georgian/Victorian Pre-63 properties are now legislated for and people in these houses like those 90 days in arrears are heading for the social housing list. Add to this the buy to lets, some 23,000 and another data collection source for the revenue who are unlikely to get much tolerance from the lenders, as Michael Noonan clearly states – this is a commercial transaction and if you are not gaining a return, then forfeiture of your property is near immediate, and the deposit you paid is the price you pay for your foolish investment, and you may even have debt going forward as it is highly improbable that you will receive debt forgiveness for a mortgage.

This Government does not have to use the tactics of Bertie Aherne’s FF led government and those TAX AMNESTIES. This Government by interlinking with the Revenue Commissioners are far more intrusive and this is about power. The issue is that equity applies and yet again there is now an even greater escapism for a small coterie of tax exiles and what once used to be referred to as ‘dead man’, and others who escape the claws of the Revenue and the powers that they have been given recently through legislation.

Cyprus – late on a Saturday night of a long weekend. A dawn raid of a devious nature was effected by the Troika on an island country with less than a million in population. Cyrpus comprises Turkey (1970’s) invaded to the North, the English former colonialists in the centre and Greek Cyprus to the South. The EU welcomed them in 2003 and now they are to have their knuckles rapped and why? The dawn raid sees funds in Cypriot banks in this little haven snatched by Troika led because Russia chooses to invest there. Could this cause a serious geographic-political crisis? Funds and banking became the designation for Russians who wanted their option to wild west banking.  Yes, another country with the kind of wild west banking that Ireland was exposed to but what they have in common is that it was driven but hidden by forces who dictate policies. It is about who is the Creditor (George Soros essay September 2012) https://www.georgesoros.com/essays/remarks_at_the_festival_of_economics_trento_italy/ nation of the EU and who dictates what the aberrant debtors do, while they flush out the cash, wealth to the powerful elites. This is the economic war of 21century Europe which we are witnessing and when you listen to the German politician state that this is their election year and it is not possible for the German’s to take up the tab of those who were so reckless, and that the time has come to levy a tax on people who save money in banks.

Cyprus clearly states that the rest of us and in particular ‘Exemplary’ Ireland need to beware. The banks are closed until Thursday, and Putin PM, Russia, is much on the back-foot while the Troika negotiate the deal. The deal is punitive. If you have under £100,000, you pay 6.5% docked from your account by Thursday morning and if you are have more than £100,000 9.9% is deducted with immediate effect.

Could this happen to Ireland? The answer is why not? Ireland succumbed to sub-prime lending that emanated from the US, but also from a lack of regulation by our bankers (basically on the instruction of the ECB). The developers built and people bought who in retrospect should not have received loans. Has this happened in Cyprus? No, it appears that the financial sector in this country became rich because Russians liked to bank their funds in their financial sector and now the Troika hawks see a great advantage to collect nearly £6 billion and they have swooped as they did in Ireland at the time of the bailout. Three islands: Ireland, Iceland (seeking to join the EU) and now Cyprus). We have been plucked. Jonathan Swift said ‘Give vision to the visionless’. We need to heed this now. There are polarities developing in Europe that their obvious.

What has this to do with urban abandonments and dereliction? Everything. An economy thrives when there is economic growth and an indicator of a return to growth is when you looking at where housing formation stands. Listening to Bloomberg about the US, they are now talking about bottoming out of the market and that retailers that supply the building industry are beginning to show trade and this indicates a shift. Ireland is vulnerable to the Troika’s bidding.

Data collection is the core function of this property tax. From granny flat, to gate house, each will have a value and it is up to each owner to make the correct valuation. To query the valuation, you must first pay. When property is defined and people are defined as owners through self declaration or being just ‘found out’, we will still be paying back our debts, and the interest which is compound interest will be rising. Then like the home-owner in negative equity begging the banks for a restructuring deal and debt forgiveness, we will be awaiting those Hawks on a long weekend targeting those people who have saved money for their old age, for their children to go to college, people with disabilities or people who have received financial settlements, or by choice which is their right. We will not have the experience of deflationary Japan waiting for 20 years to change policy. Our deposits, like our pension funds will be raided and the fact is we are so on our knees now we just accept.

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)

Excerpt:  Citizen Journalism.  Source on request


Saturday, 23 March 2013 18:09:07

Subject: Rain Rain Rain & urban desolation strikes to the core of our humanity, by Michelle Clarke (Chestnut) – Urban abandonments and dereliction ‘Live and Love’ and Digges Lane photos are uplifting.
Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2013 18:09:07 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: KT Hawklett , Michelle Clarke <

Rain Rain Rain & urban desolation strikes to the core of our humanity

 by Michelle Clarke – Chestnut – Urban abandonments and dereliction
‘Live and Love’ and Digges Lane photos are uplifting.


These days however it is hard to be uplifted or to have vision as the Government penetrate all levels of consciousness about this Local Property Tax and the implications of having the Revenue as its organiser and implementation officer. Fear abounds. Cartography was a traditional but imperfect method of collecting data about property but today with the benefit of Google and the appointment of the Revenue whose performance during the Celtic Tiger was quite exceptional in searching out those who avoided/evaded tax, and which is now further baited to catch those tax dodgers with the endorsement of this coalition Government which is challenged to be exemplary.
The troika are the masters and we must pave the way for all who are errant debtor countries.There are harsh realities ahead of 1.8 million house owners (who knows the real figure?). Last year it was said that some 45,000 households would be exempt from property tax because they were deemed to be ghost estates but desperation for funding by Government now says, one year later, that estates have been brought up to acceptance standards and it is now only 5,000 households who will not be subject to the property tax.
Prime Time aired the views and showed examples of estates and isolation and dereliction associated with them.Eviction conjures up the landlords, the Famine, and Ireland being oppressed but the truth is decade after decade and week after week people unknown to us are evicted. People are evicted by landlords from their flats in Georgian houses, people are evicted for bad behavior from local authority housing, people have been evicted in the past for failing to pay their mortgages but the difference this time is that the banks did not do the correct due diligence and lent money to people without taking account of what markets are really about, about what recessions do, the potential of unemployment and now we have genuine distressed people with mortgages that they can never repay. Legislation was in place to keep banks from evicting people resulting in less evictions in Ireland than say Spain or the UK but this now is at an end.
In the months ahead the reality is banks must meet targets and what we will witness is people losing their homes. What we need to know is what provisions will be made for these people? They will be added to the social housing list ie 100,000+ and the reality is there is no provision to provide the houses, albeit many exist but are unoccupied. Some may be able to trade down but this is a minimal quotient.What we need now to know is who can be classified as ‘strategic defaulters’?The time is near and we will be sorting the wood from the chaff. It is worth taking a look at the diversity of views and giving due consideration to why the ‘Guidelines’ have been stated in relation to people who wish to seek personal insolvency in Ireland as distinct from the UK.Colm McCarthy Economist

‘Just as the State has shown indulgence towards the banks, they have in turn been showing great forbearance to defaulting customers. More worryingly, it appears that some people who have gone into arrears have been choosing to do so, in the sense that they do not lack the financial capacity to make repayments on schedule. Some arrears can be termed ‘distressed arrears’ (or ‘delinquent mortgages’)…’

What it comes down to is honesty which is a word that needs revival. The Revenue is about fear and capacity to enforce. Thread carefully before deciding not to pay the property tax.

Saturday March 30, 2013 16:46

Moral Hazard/Debt Forgiveness will be about financial imprisonment
  by Michelle Clarke (Forster) – Urban abandonments & dereliction

Mid-April they tell us that the “Guidelines” will issue as to the income brackets and expenditure cut-offs that will be made available. Meantime the rumour mill churns out all kinds of scare tactics including those that say No to Sky TV for the miscreants who borrowed without using their common sense (no mention about the bankers who falsely sold them the loans – not like the US, where banks are being challenged to take responsibility). The childcare allowance is causing much controversy but I suppose Leo Varadkar’s defence arguments merits consideration – the guidelines will equally apply to house husbands.
What should be included with these guidelines is that these distressed borrowers or (delinquent borrowers as some people prefer to say) should be given every opportunity to gain just and equitable employment. We all know people who are unemployed and unemployed now for years who will be hammered by the PIP (Personal Insolvency Practitioners) route out of insolvency. Too many of these are in the professions and trades related to the construction industry – surely, these architects, quantity surveyors, engineers, plumbers, electricians et al should be targeted by NAMA and its special purpose vehicles post the liquidation of Irish Banking Reconciliation and harnessed at fair compensation back into the employment market while other people who have been overpaid for the last number of years working under these distressed banks move into the unemployment market.
In terms of the market and supply and demand this is about attaining equality within an industry and arriving at a fair wage structure. Families – 2 children £23,500 pa is the suggested prison cell put forward. Yes, allowed the child benefit but not childcare, costs or mortgage costs. What does this actually mean? What does this say about motivation and gainful employment? We seriously need to identify the abilities of those in financial distress, remove the element of stress, anxiety and distress and encourage them back to productivity; it is short of a savage attack on the capabilities of people to not use Social Protection to its full capacity as an engine of employment potential, working with these PIP’s (practitioners).
The media appears shy to discuss this potential from within the chaos of the housing crisis. What does the foregoing have to do with Urban Abandonments and dereliction? – a lot. Our properties are the countries assets and legislation relating to the Justice Dunne judgment no longer will impede the banks from evicting people who cannot meet their financial commitments relating to their homes or the tax break buy-to-let commitments. The Insolvency Legislation on a case by case basis will be the last ditch provision. Meantime, within the next 6 months and going forward there will be a flood of properties into the market. This will cause massive social hardship for families and people who were conned (if we allow honesty its opinion) by the ideal to let each own their own property and for others who were equally short changed into thinking, manage your own buy-to-let or property purchase, gain the income and asset value.
The truth is the Lenders backed by Government policy and the lack of regulation at Central Bank and not forgetting the ECB (prejudiced by Germany and low interest preference) peddled advice that nurtured their own vested interests because they too had failed to predict market forces. BlackRock did the Stress Tests in our banks. Their Chief Executive on a US TV programme spoke about the peaks and troughs of markets and focused on the property market rise and fall which now spans 6 years. The interesting point about property is that demand for houses governs the market. Ireland now falls into this category so maybe those like Allsop Space (a recently established auctioneers) are here to identify a market, that it is time for people to monitor. We need to ask questions about how many houses the Personal Insolvency legislation will add to those seeking property? Will they provide a route to social housing if eviction is the only route, will this mean these families will be placed ahead of those 100,000 on the social housing list who have been waiting for years?

Then we have the people living in those Pre-63 Georgian/Victorian houses throughout the country who now face the housing list or the rental accommodation lists because their landlords have not complied with the new legislation requirements for sanitary arrangements for each unit. Ireland brought in the Section 23 property deals because hidden therein was the motive to tackle the social housing issue. From the 1930’s through to 1980’s, Ireland engaged in extensive provision of social housing via the corporations and city councils. The tax breaks put a breaker on this. We need to give this recognition as we hold to account those 23,000+ buy-to-let properties who are now crippled in debt and face insolvency. What sets me thinking is my local urban village I see a man who worked in the construction game sitting out begging for money. Daily he appears to get thinner and he sits in this cold weather patiently putting in the hours before he can go to his hostel. He tells me this morning he made the call and he has his space in Camden hostel for the next three nights…..too many may face this and we need to think hard before we evict people on the orders of the Troika. Urban abandonments and derelictions ultimately relates to people, our people. Let’s cut the waste but protect people who are vulnerable in this current society and therein lies the gain. Michelle Clarke (Forster)


 Tuesday 30th April, 2013 17:20:31 

Subject: May Day is Valuation Day for Property owners in Ireland Inc by Michelle Clarke (Blake) – Urban abandonments and dereliction Tue Apr 30, 2013 16:06 Excerpt Citizen Journalism: source on request
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 2013 17:20:31 +0100
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Vincent Browne <vincent.browne@tv3.ie>, Shane.Ross@oireachtas.ie<Shane.Ross@oireachtas.ie>

May Day is Valuation Day for Property owners in Ireland Inc.

 by Blake – Urban abandonments and dereliction 

First and foremost we need to be aware that the Revenue are linked at the hip with this Local Property Tax, so it is advisable to adhere rigidly to the demand, otherwise your file with Revenue will be marked for review and you may be subject to the scrutiny of same.
To those concerned about what to do and who have not received notice from the Revenue, the Sunday Business Post answers most questions and is worth buying. There are a few points worth noting in the context of urging people to make a LPT return within the context of the importance of Ireland Inc (Troika ruled) taking stock of its urban spaces and the desire to stop dereliction in this harsh economic down-turn in our economy.Letters or ROS emails in respect of 1.66 million properties have issued from the Revenue and as many as 300,000 people have already made their LPT returns. As written in the Sunday Business Post April 28th 2013.”Key steps to comply are: YOU assess the valuation band, YOU pick your payment option and YOU file the LPT return”. Clear instructions with the emphasis plainly on “YOU”.Points to understand. The LPT is a self assessment of the valuation of your property which will be accepted by the Revenue provided it is “reasonable”. It is important to note that the valuation you make on May 1st 2013 will be the value that applies up until and including 2016. “This value will hold regardless of improvements, extensions or repairs to your property, or any general increase in property prices during this period”. Exemptions and deferrals are explained on www.revenue.ie.Some will have received “the Letter/Email” but for those who have not, you continue to be liable for the tax and the onus is on you to file your return. Again go to www.revenue.ie and go to the “I have not received a Property pin” tab; or go direct to file online by phoning 1890 200 255. The procedure is really simplified and the message is go digital now especially to those in the greying population because this is your future too.Something that is easy to overlook concerns those who are already on ROS (Revenue Online Serivce) to file your annual tax returns. If this is the case, then your LPT notification has been sent to your “IN” box and you will not receive a letter. Check it out because this is no excuse.What does “self-assessment” really mean? YOU must decide the value of your property, it is not the Revenue who make this valuation. The revenue is not expected to know the details of your house but they do make recommendations as to who you can contact to help you assess the value.
These include:-
(revenue.ie; local Citizens Information centres; property websites; actual sale prices of properties on the priceregister.ie, local newspapers, and estate agents). If you know an apartment, for example near you has sold for say £200,000 in the last 2 years, check it out on priceregister.ie, the sale price should be recorded. These sources help the owner of the property(s) to make a valid self assessment of the value. But, if your property has distinct features eg a balcony; an extension; attic conversion; OR is in ‘a significantly poor state of repair, then you must factor these in when arriving at the self assessed valuation.
The crucible is ‘that once you assess the value of your property, your valuation will be accepted. That’s the way self-assessment works for other taxes and LPT is no different’. Please note: You are not to attach any documents to your self assessment form. The Revenue will make contact with you if there is need to do so. You don’t include correspondence when you claim medical expenses so the same applies for LPT. It is like the times when the motto of the Stockbroker was ‘My word is my bond’. Those who have property must adopt the motto, make the valuation with honour and submit. You pay the assessment amount. The ‘estimate’ amount will only arise when you fail to make the assessment and the Revenue intervene.Two options to pay: Paper (May 7th) or electronically (May 28th). You select your own payment option. It is important to note that if you have more than one property, then you have no alternative but to go digital and now so May 28th is the day to register the valuations on all your properties and it is electronically. Payment methods (presumably) by now you will have access to.Compliance: There are no real options apart from limited criteria that apply to deferral. The Revenue “Estimate” will be pursued ‘using the usual range of Revenue powers and mandatory deduction at source from salaries. A surcharge will apply. For those in mortgage arrears and who are considering not making the LPT payment, think hard, because you may not receive the tax clearance certificate you need to continue in employment eg a person with a taxi for instance. ‘The impact of our compliance programme will be begin to be felt in JULY when deduction at source begins. Also at this time a risk-based compliance programme relating to valuations will be in place.And one more point, for those who have not paid the household charge arrears SNAP. They have you.For all property owners and so many categories as mentioned on this Urban Abandonments and derelictions site, tomorrow is the day for valuation. We have apartment owners who question whether they should pay because they are effectively leaseholders and pay excessive management fees, we have people displaced from Priory Hall because of non compliance by the builders, we have many owners of pre-63 units in Georgian/Victorian houses who may be completely outside the tax net but who are now forced to be compliant with regulations; we have those in Buy-to-lets and facing the Banks termination clauses; we have those in negative equity and in mortgage arrears who are self-employed but need the tax cert; then we have the new landlords like Kennedy Wilson and others who are buying up blocks of apartments; presumably these then become commercial enterprises so a tax of a different nature applies. The undertaking by Government and Revenue is of mammoth proportions to make people in Ireland tax compliant via digital going forward.If as suggested in earlier postings that this is in effect a data mining process, it could be that payment date of July provides an option for people in genuine financial hardship to be allowed more reasonable grounds for deferred payment eg on sale of property.Spare a thought for all who own property tomorrow and give recognition to those who are in the lucky position that they can and are willing to pay this property tax but also spare a thought for those who are that new generation suffocated by negative equity and mortgage arrears outcome of the post Celtic Tiger.For those still in limbo, these exemptions may apply!Residential properties owned by charities and public bodies.
Nursing homes
Mobile homes or vessels
Properties fully subject to commercial rates
Diplomatic properties – A deferral is not a waiver, tax is payable eventually.


Mon, 13 May 2013 18:00:23

Subject: Game of Chess:, by Michelle Clarke (Swift – Urban abandonments and dereliction  Excerpt: citizen journalism. source on request
Date:
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Vincent Browne <vincent.browne@tv3.ie>, roisin.shorthall@oireachtas.ie, Provost <provost@tcd.ie>, patricia.gilheaney@mhcirl.ie, Charles Normand <normandc@tcd.ie>, neilmru@tcd.ie, Micheline Egan <micheline.egan@headstrong.ie>, kathleen.lynch@oireachtas.ie <kathleen.lynch@oireachtas.ie>, James Reilly <james.reilly@oireachtas.ie>, jan.osullivan@oireachtas.ie, brian.hayes@oir.ie
Game of Chess:
  by Swift – Urban abandonments and dereliction

 

It is the Government that is the main player. They now determine what the urban community is about, that office space that is now delinquent and lying idle while the businesses which established themselves based on the customers are now thrown to the wind and are going to the wall financially. People need to become cogniscent of their towns, villages, cities and sub-divide them into the communities that make people interested from within. Take the example of Baggot Street Upper Village.

The Royal City of Dublin hospital (Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4) established in the 19th century was a major employer at one time but now stands basically stripped and uncared for. The potential is massive. What it really needs is a person in private enterprise to see its potential and then for them to enter into a public private partnership with the State and make it a hub again. I would suggest the like of Boots (Pharmaceutical) or for that matter, a local called Mr Denis O’Brien, and ask them to team up with those assigned to the proposed project to make the portion of the hospital on Haddington Road a primary care centre. There is an urgent need to enter a more creative realm of medicine to help people with mental health problems, drug addiction, ageing, even TBI’s and early dementias and restore this hospital perhaps a section into a museum attributed to medicine in a way that provides an alternative healthcare facility for the more vulnerable members of society, especially those affected by ill-health. We need to look at the history here and the centenary of the Rising now just over two years away.

Baggot Street Upper Village has recently lost the offices of IBM, many of the staff at FAS, staff at Baggot Street Community hospital as well as many residents especially those who have lived for decades in the pre-1963 Georgian bedsits which must comply with the new legislation – our businesses in this historic location are suffering and change must be fostered now. Who is prepared to intervene? This is a proto-type that can be nurtured and inspire similar communities throughout Ireland. We need to look at what we have, the history, the advantages, and remove a lot of the pessimism and fear.

Brian Hayes, Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works in his article in the Independent on 9th May 2013 about the OPW undertaking major rationalisation of its ‘large and diverse portfolio of properties across the country in order to reduce Government spending on office accommodation. This is indeed much needed in the battle against waste and surplus to requirement. However, while optimising space to help staff deliver services, there is a need to be creative to make available the vacant space that will in time become an eyesore. These buildings left vacant are not a source of rates to the local community, they are a cost that increases over time. The time is now to be pro-active and not allow urban decay to embed itself.

Create urban villages. Get people focused and neighbourly. Let the day workers interact with the residents (it is time to return to the culture of the pubs) and lets tackle this ever deepening recession from the grassroots up. If we do this, we can put pressure on the Troika to ‘write down’ a portion of the debt. The truth is that It is denial and dissociation that has set in and people aren’t grasping that ‘write down of debt’ becomes a necessity at times.


Wednesday 15th May, 2013 18:17

Subject: 200 ghost estates to be knocked to the ground, by  Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and dereliction
Date: Wed, 15 May 2013 18:17:17 +0100
From: Michelle Clarke <michelleclarke@upcmail.ie>
To: Alan Shatter <Alan.Shatter@oireachtas.ie>, Clare Finglas <cfinglas@riai.ie>, Dymphna Moore <D.Moore@ria.ie>, eamon.timmins@ageaction.ie, envirocentre@enterprise-ireland.com, jan.osullivan@oireachtas.ie, joan.burton@oireachtas.ie <joan.burton@oireachtas.ie>, Vincent Browne <vincent.browne@tv3.ie>, philip.hogan@oireachtas.ie
200 ghost estates to be knocked to the ground

by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and dereliction 

6 years on and at last Jan O’Sullivan (Minister related to Housing) and her department recognise that certain estates are a hazard to society and they are to be bull-dozed. Let this be an opportunity to remove people from the unemployment register and create a learning curve for them about construction to destruction. This is the pathway for them to enter into the much needed renovation market taking into account the recent legislation aimed at eradicating the bed-sit flat without bathroom and other housing projects like Priory Hall that will have to comply with legislation also. It’s time for the FAS renamed Solas! https://www1.solas.ie/ to get into scrub up mode and prepare people for the economic cycles that housing demand creates. They need to research how ANCO https://www.rte.ie/archives/2014/0528/620190-learning-for-life-with-anco/ used to work, forget the £1 bn it takes to run their Office, stop the junkets and get to creating work for people. Unemployment among the young people has lasting effects on their mental health; so we really need to get focused and now on how to create markets that create work for people.

At last the separation of powers kicks into play and the rental sector becomes disentangled from harsh realities of upward only rent reviews. Towns, villages, urban villages, like Baggot Street Upper Village have witnessed casualty after casualty being pushed out of business leaving vacant spaces with to let and for sale signs with little or no hope for occupation for possibly years. This destroys the character of the urban space and ultimately smothers the soul of the people who occupy such spaces which are in real terms communities.

Dunnes Stores like Campbell Catering, such long-timer contributors and employers in our country, have challenged the landlords through the court system and well done. Now it is time for the small businesses, the hairdressers, the shops, the pubs, in our urban villages to grasp the nettle and put pressure on landlords, particularly those who are decades in ownership, to cut the rents and in line with the decision of Civil Court Judge Jacqueline Linnane. It is time for the business owners to take heart and make a stand against unfair, inequitable, unjust rent agreements that are stifling their profitability and forcing them towards bankruptcy. Austerity can be assuaged by a reduction in rents and this will create spending locally and all that it is needed is spending and more humane interaction. Each of us has a duty to the community we live in to ensure that employment is a key component and facilitated by all.

No doubt the banks will be disappointed by the Court award precedent to cut certain rents by 50% because this is their business. But frankly the Banks have been adopting bullying tactics in relation to customers. They pay insufficient interest to the people who keep deposits, they charge for accounts, for transactions and they have removed the friendly face from the local banks. They are playing the roll over staff policy to stop the interconnect that our communities need, especially now.

The time is now as the Courts tackle the Justice issue and for people to alert themselves and to start asking landlords to cut rents to a sufficient level that businesses can continue to operate, create spending and in turn at grassroots create the much needed economic growth that Ireland needs. Many of the properties are Namatised and NAMA is one of the biggest landlords in this country now and they are earning enough at the cost of those at grassroots trying to create economic activity.

Take heed of what B&Q (DIY) giant, Pamela Scott in Grafton Street, Campbells and Bewley’s have successfully achieved through the courts system. Judge Jacqueline Linnane ‘yesterday ordered a 35% reduction in the rent paid to Layden Properties in George’s Street Limited for 10,500 sq ft of retail space in the company’s store and head office in George’s Street in Central Dublin’. For the small business person this is the beginning and it is now time to let the dice roll and start asking for fair rents. It is also worth noting that ancillary office space and storage areas…was also reduced by 50% ie £15 to £7.50 per square foot and £10 to £5 respectively.

Judge Linnane went on to say and this is worth grasping that:-

“The economy is in recession, there is a high rate of unemployment and there has been a fall in retail sales and a decline in concsumer spending”…..Now listen to what the Judge says …. it is the Judge in this case that knows the basic economics!

It is worth taking a visual appraisal of what the experts for Dunnes Stores valued at £225,600 as the rent per year BUT the Landlord’s experts claimed it should be £717,000 per annum. It is time to say NO …. it is time for FAIR RENTS.

Urban abandonments and derelictions need to be challenged

Michelle Clarke (Blake)


Sat May 25, 2013 15:48

Hatch Street, D2, once an exclusive private nursing home now for Asylum seekers

by Michelle Clarke  (Comyn)- Urban Abandonments and dereliction

But what about buildings that are both architecturally splendid, in prime locations, close by to the National concert hall that are now home to asylum seekers, men, women, children who have become teenagers and older. They are positioned like an oasis but in a desert because these vulnerable refugees are housed here and forgotten about. The Irish Times article written by Patrick Freyne titled ‘Refugees endure mind-numbing tedium, insecurity and over-crowding’ needs to be read and merits the attention of the Citizens Journalism sites regarding Ireland’s Urban abandonments and dereliction to record how a ‘forgotten people’ can be housed on our shores with many questions unanswered. Hatch Street private nursing home 1958 was often accompanied by a notice in the Irish Times to say a child was born to a family. Shamefully now it is another kind of home to young asylum children and from the article many of them live in an environment of fear – fear to go to the bathroom at night thereby necessitating a ‘pot’ for their needs. For the people of Ireland, we need to be asking questions now about these ‘behind the walls’ architectural significant buildings, in prime locations?. Who owns them? What rent do our Government agencies pay to the owners/landlords each year? Is it upward only rental that applies? Does the Government authority pay way above the odds for the provision of this accommodation for asylum seeker families with the attitude of who cares about refurbishment, just keep them quiet and hidden? The Irish Times article shows pictures of near squalid conditions behind the walls. Is this acceptable at a time that our religious orders are being made stand accountable and transparent for the shameful practices of the Magdalen Laundries and other such horror stories relating to poor peoples’ lives?

Hatch Street is neither abandoned or derelict but the lives of the asylum seekers housed here is both about abandonment and dereliction but in this case it is the dereliction of duty by the State. Destitution and forgotten about at a time that our unemployment rate soars and people faced with eviction from their homes due to the economic crisis, does not mean that we should forget the people who seek asylum in Ireland. Africa Day is near. These people are asked to live in one of the most elitist areas in Dublin in a property that from the outside is outstanding on £19.10 per week (£9.60 for children) – they are not allowed either to work or study. They are subject to be moved or even be deported at short notice. These people come from the Congo (war at its worst prevails eg Kony), Cameroon, Afghanistan. People share rooms. Many are educated.

The structure on the outside far from what resembles within. Money is the strong determinant of keeping vulnerable people like asylum seekers hidden away. The money is the rent paid most probably at the height of the Celtic Tiger to often absentee landlords, moving upwards only, with no obligations to improve the conditions in which people live.

If this applies to asylum seekers, it also applies to the homeless. Beware of the creation of industries that pay landlords at the expense of those made vulnerable by a society without a moral compass.

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)


Monday May 27, 2013 15:56Mon

We need a little cross fertilisation on this site. Well done Lainey Quinn, a 23 year old Dubliner who has written a gem about our City’s derelict landmarks in news@metroherald.ie.

Apathy creeps up slowly and suddenly a building fades into the landscape and becomes derelict. How do we stop the process, in particular, where the buildings represent the soul of our society and deserve saving? This can include the boarding up of houses in Moyross in Limerick to the neglect of the former landmark Baggot Street Community hospital once known as the (Royal City of Dublin) hospital. Too easy it is to blame the recession and allow this potential dereliction take over.

Lainey Quinn started off just taking photos, as so many tourists do when they visit Ireland, and she began to value the historical nuances and as often is the case, their historical architectural attributes of the City’s many historical but derelict landmarks.

Shame on us this year of the Gathering 2013. How many emigrants took the boats from Dun Laoghaire decades ago, who now will once more visit. Well done to Lainey’s photo in Monday’s Metro Herald (May 27th 2013) because we now know what they will see and shame on us, (especially at a time when endeavour should create markets), is a shameful graffitti covered Dun Laoghaire baths …. these baths were built over 170 years ago. They offered then what people would want now if it was properly marketed to them, the sea, with fresh water, a choice of hot or cold water, sulphur and seaweed baths. They say Dun Laoghaire and Rathdown Co Council are trying to re-develop this remnant of historical times but excuses prevail and opportunities of retaining infra-structure with potential to create employment, tourism promotion, facilities for Dublin in its entirety, are snarled up in the red tape of pure bureaucracy and non decision. Where is the momentum? The opportunity exists because the labour is cheap and abundant so time to upskill in a positive way using state funds overpaid entities like the Office of Public works and the other relevant semi-state over pampered bodies.

2016 and the anniversary of the Rising is imminent. The photo of the wheels to Bolands Mill which was built in the 1830’s and which operated as a commercial mill for over 100 years, forms a significant part of the history that changed Ireland into a Republic. It is now that these near derelict locations written into our history can be preserved and used to promote peace instead of war, as they stand as monuments to the origins of our Republic. Lainey’s photo of the Been and Gun: the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park, was built in 1735 and it combines the history of colonial Ireland and potential Republic Ireland. Why, because it was used as a store of the Irish Army’s guns during the 1916 Rising. What an opportunity to upskill young people who are on the dole queues or in St. Patrick’s Institution for young offenders.

Richmond Mental Asylum or Grangegorman which was opened in 1814 is the source of another kind of history that we need a reminder of. It is about the Lunacy Act, mental health and vulnerable people then and now. We need to be reminded because we need to remain learned about mental health and why the stigma applies. The photo taken by Lainey of the grate impinges sharply about hardship and abandonment of people who were/are different. The unkempt pile of blankets in the rooms is a record of what happened to people, all over Europe, as well as Ireland in these asylums. The teddy bear covered in moss from Grangegorman is poignant and should find its way to a museum. Baggot Street Hospital is in need of a make-over, maybe we could have a proper medical museum which would aim to de-stigmatise mental health. Soon Grangegorman will be subsumed into a new identity and creation with third level education being the major provider.

Lainey’s article is worth reading. The photos should be added to this posting but how is up to someone else!. Awareness will create motivation and the time is now to be creative.


Thursday 30th May, 2013 21:33:09

Subject: Local Property Tax (LPT) 8 out of 10 Pay. Revenue Efficiency and Fear as motivator, by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban Abandonments and dereliction from citizen journalism site.
Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 21:33:09
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <Alan.Shatter@oireachtas.ie>, Vincent Browne <vincent.browne@tv3.ie>, roisin.whiting@amnch.ie

Local Property Tax 8 out of 10 Pay.  Revenue Efficiency and Fear as motivator

by Michelle Clarke (Comyn)- Urban Abandonments


The media indicates that the property tax drive under the auspices of the Revenue Commissioners is most successful with 8 out of 10 householders making a return. If so, it is now time for real work to be done and to find those who have more the mentality of the avoidance/evasion rogue and seek always to move under the radar. This group of course includes the numerous exiles who choose not to pay tax in Ireland (the Bilderbergers) but who gladly use the infrastructure of the home country without the sense of due diligence necessary to be a citizen. It is these people, we hope that the Revenue will tackle first for not paying their ‘property tax’ because there is one thing we know about these exiles, they own or have systems in place to organise their property portfolio in their home country, Ireland, so often their place of birth.
The Revenue consistently proves itself to be from the time of the banking scandals in the 1980’s, to the activities of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), to the successful amnesties during the Fianna Fail period to be a sleek, targeted, hound-dog in search of a bone, slimline version of equivalent public sector departments, that works. Let’s see what happens now. Ireland’s balance sheet at present has a positive entry but now we need to know that the money is spent and not wasted, particularly in the bureaucracy that stifles our economy.
To those of us who have paid our property tax, our priority should be to ensure that the 85% promised is designated to the local councils. We need to get smart and into urban and rural revival and for this we need a designation of an adequate percentage of what we paid by the due date May 28th followed by the brief extension to 8 pm 29th May 2013. The fear factor worked but now that the contracts to pay as of July 1st are in place. Now we can accept that we comply with the commitments and agreement to property tax by other socialist parties throughout Europe. We have witnessed the efficiency of the Revenue driven impetus to collect this property tax, it is now imperative that what has been diligently collected is not wasted in the bureaucracy of other government departments who are quite blatantly inefficient. Yes, what comes to mind is the article in today’s Irish Independent by Conor Kane. Quite appropriately, as legislation rushes through the Dail, President Michael D. Higgins, a man who is about ‘diversity in unity’ through his vast life experience and involvement in politics especially Labour, has said in a speech to the residents of St. Columba’s Hospital in Kilkenny that ‘managerial jargon is in his sights as he toys with the idea of introducing a “Bureaucrat of the Year” award…he went further and referenced what we encounter endlessly today in the public sector particularly through a “managerial non-speak” and he states the need to return to what is “real” in life.
Again, let us defer to the wisdom of our learned President and add that the problem is the dichotomy between those who have and those who have not, be it wealth, power, money, position, and those who are citizens who give in other ways, which he quite aptly summed up as “We began to speak impersonally to each other”. President Higgins follows on to say and here is the challenge to our society in need of zest and motivation to recover: “I was thinking of having an award for Bureaucrat of the Year, something like the Tidy Towns competition where you could start locally and build up”. Tidy Towns worked. Why because people worked together in their towns, villages and now we need to include urban villages (communities, neighbourhoods). The psychology is tapped and the outcomes can be witnessed by all, in recession and in Tiger days, so why not use that Revenue model of ‘mean machine’ workability without bureaucracy and create opportunities for the young generation and in particular the many people in the age 41 to 51 deeply embedded in this negative equity crisis and create action and answers that can seen ‘Gobbledygook’ is what has happened- Reportedly the President’s word concerning bureaucracy. But in our effort to curb wasteful expenditure we need to tackle this: How can it be reported that in 2012 that remittances to Nigeria (one of the wealthiest countries in the world due to Oil/Shell) amounted to £500 million (Half Billion). The European Central Bank (ECB) has obligations to those within the European Community to protect them. Ireland’s Central bank can no longer use capital controls or interest rates without ECB sanction but Ireland being so vulnerable now should have power at Central Bank to impose capital controls to remittances to African countries. Is this naive or common sense? Western Union and others – are they regulated by the Central Bank? Michelle Clarke (Comyn)

Fri, 31 May 2013 18:37:17

Subject: Vacant NAMATISED properties & Waste,author by Blake – Urban Abandonments publication date Fri May 31, 2013 16:32 citizen journalism source on request
Date: Fri, 31 May 2013 18:37:17 +0100
From: Michelle Clarke
To: KT Hawklett
Vacant NAMATISED properties & Waste
Toxic Assets Agency told we don’t want what you have to offer?
by Michelle Clarke – Urban Abandonments and dereliction

 Remittances from America and UK in the 1930’s time of near economic devastation in the newly formed Republic of Ireland gave Ireland the opportunity to be a competitor in world markets and ultimately enabled it to join the EEC in 1973. The remittances Comyn refers to of £500 million by Nigerians in 2012 is a similar process. In most cases, we can presume that the “Bilderbergers” and Shell oil company magnets are the wealth owners and the remittances that emanate from Ireland create enterprise for those who live in absolute poverty in Nigeria and in so many African countries. Sadly, the timing for the sending of such remittances and those we are not informed about is disturbing because we are experiencing poverty of different parameters, but poverty all the same.

NAMA is our State toxic assets agency and we have plenty of property for sale. Recently NAMA has been successful with its holding of distressed property stock in the UK and gains have been made. They are less successful in Ireland. We know that more people than ever exist on the social housing list, we know that the banks will be foreclosing soon on delinquent borrowers, we know that the sanitary standards of most pre-63 Georgian/Victorian houses in bedsits no longer comply with legislation, so it is not unreal to assume that the housing stock in NAMA is needed not in the future but yesterday. What has happened? Its those awful words again ‘managerial and bureaucracy’ that President Michael D. Higgins used in his recent speech in Kilkenny.

Apparently as many as 2,000 properties offered by the State’s toxic assets agency are not suitable and have been turned down! They say NAMA ‘is dragging its feet’ to hand over houses for social housing. However, Brendan McDonagh, Chief Executive in NAMA refutes this and claims that as many as 4,200 homes were offered to local authorities and homeless charities and half of these were rejected. 2008 was the time of the financial crisis; by 2010 NAMA was in place and the blatant need of property for people without access to homes is rising rapidly so why is it that NAMA and the local authorities/charities are prancing around, basically leaving properties vacant while there are people in real need.

Surely the local authorities and charities need the stock, full stop. The excuse is they are looking mainly for one bedroom apartments but Focus Ireland and other co-operatives are ahead of the posse and have taken up this stock and well done to them. Mr McDonagh, Chief Executive, at the launch of NAMA’s annual report recently said that ‘properties they had offered had been frequently turned down because authorities said they were unsuitable and in the wrong areas – “We can bring a horse to water, we can make the units available and say this is what we have, but the local authorities and the approved housing bodies have to decide what they want’. McDonagh added that NAMA were not in the position to commit money to finish off certain developments and there is an urgent need for local authorities or housing bodies to sign the necessary agreements to lease them. This delay is unforgivable. Finishing off estates, apartment complexes should be well completed by now and people living in homes provided by the State. Waste not should be want not and bureaucracy is not acceptable. NAMA will be the winner here and you may ask why because the private equity bidders are circling and they are purchasing blocks of apartments and it will be their decision who to let apartments to.

Don’t forget the lost generation of people who worked in the civil service or worked in the large department stores who came to Dublin and lived in flats in Rathmines, Ranelagh, Phibsboro, Ballybough. Take a look at these shabby houses that have been homes for many for decades now and ask who is going to help them live out their retirement? These people are not yet on the social housing list and probably know little about same but they exist often getting housing allowance for sub-standard unregulated shameful accommodation and live a spartan existence on disability or pensions. These people following the legislation in February 2013 to upgrade sanitary provisions for bedsits/rooms will be without homes and it is these people who become one step away from homelessness.

We need housing stock assessed and occupied because ghost estates, empty apartment blocks will ultimately have to be destroyed or will be bought at knock down prices by private equity companies from abroad with an eye for investment returns ie asset value and income.

For people interested in the history of Ireland over the decade 1913 to 2013 should look at www.rte.ie/centuryireland. Slums, infanticide, poverty…. let us not lose what we have gathered.

Michelle Clarke (Blake)


Saturday 22 June, 2013 18:14:16

Subject: Breakers ahead as Banks Code of practice enables them to pursue Evictions, by Michelle Clarke (O’Malley) – Urban abandonments and dereliction Excerpt: citizen journalism. Source on request
Date: Sat, 22 Jun 2013 18:14:16
From: Michelle Clarke <michelleclarke@upcmail.ie>
To: bgavin@cllr.castlebartc.ie, jan.osullivan@oireachtas.ie, June <masonwfj@gmail.com>

Breakers ahead as Banks Code of practice enables them to pursue Evictions

by Michelle Clarke (O’Malley) – Urban abandonments and dereliction 

A homeless man sits patiently outside Tesco with a tattered old paper cup. He is one of the lucky people who has secured his bed for the night at a hostel in Camden Hall, which is soon to be closed, no doubt for obvious reasons. He was away for a couple of months; he is one of the casualties of the construction collapse. He had visited his son who has just completed his leaving.

Turn on the European news. Across Europe and particularly the periphery countries which include Ireland and they say as many as one in two people under the age 25 have no work or potential to get a job in the immediate future. In another generation, these people would already be working, have started their own families and would have mortgages on their homes. Now we have crisis, a self created economic war that is the result of recklessness. We have the parents in their sixties who have gone guarantor for their children, we have those in second relationships who got mortgages because of naivety and over supply of cheap money and now we have a young generation awaiting inheritance or simply living at home.

The Greeks have already suffered the full onslaught of the Banks and foreclosures, as have the Spanish and the Italians. Ireland: it is now we will experience the onslaught. People who for the passed five years have been living out the horrors of indebtedness and fear can hide no longer. The Banks have secured the right to change the Central Bank code of conduct on ‘mortgage arrears’. This code or rule book is now to be radically changed, and people need to alert themselves to the horrors that lie ahead for their fellow human beings. Next Thursday, 27th June 2013 is the day for change. The lobbying by the banks has paid off, for them and let us add yet again! According to Charlie Weston, Personal Finance Editor, the Irish Independent – ‘the most controversial change is the dropping of the 12 month moratorium on repossessions of homes if borrowers are in arrears but are co-operating with their lender’. Instead of 12 months, it will be two months before the banks can act:

Action: cognizance is essential now for those in mortgage debt. Homeowners in arrears and who have received an offer by the bank but who decide to turn it down…. will now only be given two months protection before the Banks can act and issue legal proceedings. The end date now becomes far closer and the outcome of eviction for more real. Lobbying is a powerful mechanism and the view of Brendan Burges https://www.askaboutmoney.com/ is worth evaluation. He may be right when he says “Some people will use the 12 month moratorium to bury their head in the sand and not face up to their responsibilities”…. these responsibilities form part of that ‘moral hazard’ argument.

The time now is for banks to assess their clients ‘statement of means’; to eek out those ‘delinquent borrowers’ who have no chance of making their repayments and evict them; to search for those emigrants who may now fall within the group highlighted by Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan who said ‘that an examination of arrears cases has indicated that large numbers could make payments – if they get a deal from their bank or shift payments payments away from other, less essential bills”.

Yes, it is the Personal Insolvency Legislation time now and not unlike a divorce, the statement of means will determine so much. Watch out for those strategic defaulters is the new motto of the bankers. The courts will back them up, if like a good divorce and a statement of means reveals deceit.


Sunday 30th June 2013 17:14

 

Subject: One man’s loss is another man’s opportunity, by  Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments
Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2013 17:14:59 +0100
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <Alan.Shatter@oireachtas.ie>, director@architecturefoundation.ie, eamon.timmins@ageaction.ie

One man’s loss is another man’s opportunity
 

 by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and dereliction


Eviction is the word. The Code of Conduct has been altered. The banks are forced to act now. The Personal Insolvency bill is about to be released and things are changing in Ireland. The Banks are tasked now to seek out the difference between the ‘Mortgage Delinquents and the Strategic Defaulters’ and the implication here is surveillance and private investigators. On the Vincent Browne TV3 show the other night a man from Maynooth University referred to the US and the forensic studies that reveal that as many as 35-40% are strategic defaulters. Others on the panel said No. What we do know is that there is an endgame in sight and there will ultimately be those hopeless cases who got trapped into mortgages when in another decade they would have been on the social housing list.
The banks will have to take responsibility here. These people must receive write-downs in debt and it should be sooner rather than later, because these people have suffered enough.Social housing is in chaos. The truth is that public private partnerships, affordable housing ousted the traditional modus operandi of the State which built houses annually to provide for people in need. Now we know that this list for social housing is in excess of 100,000 and people are struggling either living in the rental sector on rent allowance in a rising rent market due to limited adequate property supply or living with their parents which if we follow the patterns in Greece, Italy and Spain, will become the norm here in Ireland.The ‘Mortgage Delinquents’ need to escape the chains that bind them. The Banks need to give them debt forgiveness and if possible some compensation that will make the housing authorities do a deal that transfers the ownership of the house to them without the family having to transfer into the rental sector.
Vision and Dublin: 5 years on from the Celtic Tiger and NAMA has wisely sold its near profitable properties particularly those in the UK first and foremost. Now it is time to take a look at the home front. Take a look at those apartments on Merrion Road, part of the McNamara dream and ask what happens now? Then take a look at Dublin 8 and ask what are the plans here? Then there is the Gasworks – change is already in place here. It is worth taking a look at the rental costs in excess of £2,000 per month. Apartment blocks will no longer be individual units owned by people but the block owned by a company ie Ireland’s new breed of Landlord with motives similar to Famine times.26th June 2013, Bill Nowlan wrote a most informative article in the Irish Times. He writes about the changes that are happening in Ireland and now. The properties are built, vacant, and marketable. The private equity groups are circling and they are buying and they are changing how property ownership will be determined in the future. These people are looking for the asset valuation appreciation and the rent roll that moves upwards.According to Nowlan “The new way of property has arrived which is short leases, multi-tenanting, active management, uneven valuations and ongoing refurbishment’.We need to sell our stock but we also need to be aware that some of this stock should be part of provision for the social housing need and that we don’t necessarily want the private equity moguls taking over our social housing provision.

July 4th, 2013 16:48

Subject: Pre-63 bedsits & New Laws., by Blake – Urban abandonments and dereliction Thu Jul 04, 2013 16:48
Date: Thu, 04 Jul 2013 22:56:56 +0100
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <Alan.Shatter@oireachtas.ie>, antoinette.fennell@ncbi.ie, Clare Finglas <cfinglas@riai.ie>, director@architecturefoundation.ie, eamon.timmins@ageaction.ie, heritage@antaisce.org, jan.osullivan@oireachtas.ie, Mike Allen <mallen@focusireland.ie>
Pre-63 bedsits & New Laws.

by  Michelle Clarke (Blake) – Urban abandonments and dereliction 

What about these people who will be the real dispossessed?

We all know that people have had to live in sub-standard conditions but can anyone explain to me how legislation was introduced in February 2013 – the aim being to rid the city of sub-standard accommodation without any provision for the thousands of vulnerable people who would be evicted in the name of progress? The most basic requirement is to provide alternative accommodation for these people and no provision is made.

The objectives of ridding Ireland of sub-human accommodation cannot be faulted but the lack of provision for people who lived, some for decades in these bedsits, is scandalous. The arm of the law puts pressures on the landlords and invariably they are taking the opportunity to sell on rather than temporarily re-homing their tenants in B&B’s and upgrading their properties to comply with the standards required by the new legislation.

Who do these people turn to? For a start they are supposed to be computer literate. Each government body directs them to another body eg Threshold, PRTB, or to NABCO, Cluid, Hail, Vincent De Paul or the present mire of Section 23 buy-to-let inexperienced landlords. The first port of call is the politician and then off you go on the rounds in the hope that some other private sector landlord will accept the rent allowance. These people need a dedicated cohort within the public sector who can ensure that they are not made homeless or left in the Bed & Breakfast, hostel.

Urban abandonments and dereliction should bring to mind the plight of these people especially now. Today Allsop have been stopped dead in their tracks from auctioning off properties of people who are in financial distress. Many of the properties for sale have sitting tenants and their circumstances are pitiful and shameful.

Ireland is now at the stage of tackling problems relating to property but in its wake is massive hardship. The Banks are now empowered to evict; the social housing sector sold out to many tenants who bought out their homes depleting the stock for people in need; many who would have been eligible for social housing were caught out by the Celtic Tiger dream of owning their own property and are now the ‘mortgage delinquents’ who if they qualify for social housing now should have debt forgiveness granted to them; and then add those who have lived as tenants of that shadow economy property market ie pre 63 who are now being flushed out by legislation that says landlords must refurbish “flats” into modern apartments and family homes. From now on, ‘the aim for the rental property sector of ‘shadow’ origins is to include a register of all houses in multi-occupancy use, with each one being regularly inspected to protect against “unauthorized conversions”.

Minister Shatter. Pre 63 properties. Many are receiving eviction notices. Please allocate a dedicated service to ensure they are not made homeless or placed in the Industry of hostels like those provided by Victory Evangelical Church. https://www.independent.ie/…/maeve-sheehan-evangelical-church-trustees-left-reeling-as-the…

Michelle Clarke


Thursday, 11th July 2013 10:38:14

Subject: Compassion and Communication,author by Comyn – Urban abandonments and dereliction. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2013 10:38:14 +0100
From: Michelle Clarke <michelleclarke@upcmail.ie>
To: Dermot Lacey <dermot.lacey@labour.ie>, Alan Shatter <Alan.Shatter@oireachtas.ie>
Ireland: Reminds me of advice I received in Zimbabwe.  Don’t give to the impoverished; always take some money.  Not to take money is perceived as ‘weakness’. You write an email but feedback is not part of Bureaucracy loop.

Feedback is essential; the UK government ministers do reply.  However, here is an exception and thank you.

Thanks for the assistance with Brendan.  He is placed under unfair pressure as is the other woman in the house who has lived in the house for 27 years.  This is the plight of the legislation and you will see from this article that I personally believe that the landlords of these houses who must re-construct them or sell them with vacant possession must be bound to make a financial contribution either to the housing authority and to a contribution to a new home in the private sector if rent allowance applies.  12 years and 100+ days of notice and no financial compensation is not acceptable surely.

Michelle

Compassion and Communication

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
by Comyn – Urban abandonments and dereliction

A person living in a bedsit for 12 years or 27 years can be served with eviction notices and thrown into a totally stressed, distressed situation. They say a problem shared is a problem halved and in these turbulent times people need to be aware that hardship is thrown upon the most vulnerable in our society. We need to keep informed and we need to communicate to ensure these people are not added to the homeless list and left to live in B&B’s and hostels for the remainder of their lives. Their only crime being that they received rent allowance and passed it on with an additional payment to a landlord of a pre-63 non compliant property of bedsits up to current legislation dated February 2013. We only need to look to the chaos in London where the homeless are now being removed and sent to other counties, basically against their will and without regard to their rights. It is the industry of bed and breakfast and hostels that has created a dependent culture and the excessive costs of same have resulted in this drastic action of displacement of people. Ireland needs to be alert now to the number of people who will be looking to rent properties/homes and to note that rents are rising in Ireland and most likely will continue to do so, based on the increased demand.

Look out for the most vulnerable people because these are the silent potentially dispossessed.

Again we need to ask the question why no provision was made for these people when the legislation was drafted over 4 years ago. Surely it is common sense that if a landlord/owner of a Pre-63 house or other non compliant rental properties has failed to comply with improving the standard of the property as required by law in the last four years, they by moral and legal right should be asked to make a significant contribution based on the years the person has lived in these houses to ensure they get a replacement home be it on the social housing list or in the private sector?

Urban abandonment and dereliction is within the control of the ordinary people of Ireland.
The Troika steps up the threats to the Central Bank who in turn tells the banks …. evict. The strategic defaulters may be okay but the others face the social housing list or the increasing rental market or straight forward trading down. The banks need to watch their brief because Blackstone, Cerberus and other private equity hawks are the new moguls of institutional investment in property who are coming to town and buying up properties and recreating what was once home ownership dedication to rental property and the new landlord species or REITS.

Michelle Clarke


Saturday, 16 July 2016 14:39:15

Priory Hall: A man commits suicide, let’s get real now we are dealing with human being abandonment

by  Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and dereliction  

Ghost estates destroy in particular our rural countryside emphasising how easy it is for properties to become derelict and become hazardous to people both physically, socially and most importantly impacting on their mental health. Where are all the promises to act “now” demolish the buildings and infrastructure and revert to agricultural land or play amenities. These developments provide opportunities to retrain some of the unemployed on these failed building sites and let people move forward.

Priory Hall Dublin Northside https://www.independent.ie/irish…/priory-hall-stress-drove-dad-to-suicide-29538409.html is an absolute disgrace. Fault can be determined by the courts over time but the fact that the apartment complex requires certain standards of compliance to legislation is not a sufficient excuse to leave people who are owners and many more on rent allowance in jeopardy and hardship year after year. Mellon the contractor is reported in the past to have gathered a contingent of people to go to Africa to build houses in the township for the locals. It is said that each volunteer raised up to 4,000 euros and gave of their time. Reports are happy homes for people without hope who saw a destiny of wrought iron townships being replaced with suitable homes.

Why not a similar initiative for Priory Hall and add to this the apartment block that went on fire last week which probably has displaced residents. If only an organiser could be appointed and again this could be used as a training project for people who are presently unemployed. Maybe our Mr Tax Exiles could be enterprising and create a fund for these poor vulnerable owners and renters of what once were their dream properties. Action is required urgently and especially as the plight of a young man, a father, who has chosen to die by suicide is reported in yesterday’s newspaper. The blame does not rest with Priory Hall and the shananigans of the builders, the architects, the Dublin City Council but we can rest assured the fiasco had some impact. This man leaves a partner (without access to their home, be it a mortgage, or by rent allowance) and two small children age 8 and 2. The hidden stress culminates in a massive human cost when suicide becomes the only way out for a person.

The human cost is destroying the dream of home ownership and many people are suffering while others who are older and who have their homes bought pre-Celtic Tiger or who have their mortgages paid off. Today in the Irish Indepedent there is a letter by a person who can be contacted via the Editor. This is pressure. It begs the question is she one of the new coterie of people with mortgages in arrears who face eviction? When you read the letter it is hard to envisage what it must be like to live on the margins just because the banks went into overdrive and marketed and sold properties recklessly. In the UK banking misconduct is being introduced into legislation.

The person writes asking for ‘Clarity’
The question: ‘How much can a banking institution charge a person paying a mortgage?’

2007 Peak period. The person pays £342,000 (note stamp duty would paid on this amount) and that house is presently worth £140,000. Serious negative equity but the State has its stamp duty and the Local Property Tax also. The mortgage as a proportion of income was 56% 2.5 yrs ago – making it difficult enough to sustain but now it is 81% of income.

The person asks and so many more must now ask WHY?
Charges added on by Budgets aimed at fixing the massive budget deficit of £1 billion per month because of the wild west banking and reckless misconduct of bankers, developers, solicitors  (does anyone ever ask about Michael Lynn and all the people he represented – news is he is in Brazil so no extradition warrant can apply) and all those politicians who compromised themselves in changing agricultural land to housing designation making those farmers on the outskirts of Dublin and other cities very wealthy people. What our country received was a hideous urban sprawl with tragedies behind too many doorways.

The writer of the letter states that the charges referred to are: USC, pension-related deductions and consecutive rises in the mortgage rates to date. This person is down 600 euros per month based on the pay cuts and mortgage increases. Those hidden charges now need to be outed. We know the banks are crucifying those with deposits with charges and inadequate interest on deposits but we don’t hear about the charges that apply to the ‘delinquent borrowers’. We need to know because when you are in financial difficulties an apathy often descends and you are there to be preyed upon by the lenders.

The person then asks if ‘a banking institution cannot simply keep increasing a mortgage interest rate to the point where previously a fully paid mortgage becomes unsustainable’.

Sadly they can. Interest rates are on the rise in the US and we rely on the ECB to hold rates at their current level. However, if you are in arrears, you need to be aware of all the hidden charges that apply. For example, now if you fail to pay your mortgage in a given month, and you have no overdraft and you go into the red, does this mean you pay charges now in place (£25 in certain banks). Add to this all the other what ifs!

Repossessions are on the way. Watch out for names of Private Equity groups called Blackstone and the changing face of property ownership to rental. Google them and you will find out that the banks need to watch out as Blackstone now the largest holder of properties in the US will determine markets going forward. They have arrived in Ireland and they are buying at massive discounts. Treat this as a need to know and ask if our Banks are really doing their homework to protect home ownership in Ireland.

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)

 

 


 Sun, 21 Jul 2013 17:56:45 

 

Landlords especially NAMA charge fair rents that reflect embattled local communties

by  Michelle Clarke (Blake) – Urban abandonments and dereliction

Fear abounds and silence destroys. Baggot Street Upper Village should be observed and sponsored as a proto-type for people to grasp just how tough it is on the margins of trying to make small to medium businesses tick over enough to survive. The landlords ie the owners of the properties that are leased to small businesses are being too greedy. The upward only clause is their credo and irrespective of the realities of the downturn in business, they just continue to charge too much.

Xtra-Vision had been a hub for over a decade in Baggot Street. All kinds of people had their own little ecosystem with the shop; for lots of us it was the 8 computers that engaged us with the internet and what it offers. The rumours are the rent was too high; some say the space cost as much as 140,000 euros and negotiation was not forth coming to reduce the rent when Xtra-vision went into examinership. Now it is vacant and advertised and the new tenant no doubt will be able to negotiate down the rent substantially, while the property stands vacant for months, if not years going forward. Meanwhile people have lost jobs, a neighbourhood has lost a business that contributed, and now there is the vacant premises to remind us all of that dreaded fear that goes with vulnerability and deep recession.

Then there is the FAS office, up to recently a venue for people to convene to seek employment. One would have thought that as the head office that Solas would retain the location and embed a culture of cross-fertilisation to expose people to employment opportunities and make a hub for employment initiative and job creation. Instead, the nucleus is but a payer to NAMA of rent and the question is does it pay rates to the local authority? Baggot Street Upper Village demands high rates and water rates from the small businesses yet it is suggested that semi-state buildings and HSE don’t have to pay rates. If this is so, where is the initiative to re-invigorate the bedraggled once Royal City of Dublin hospital, an architectural gem from another century, into a thriving centre of motivation and employment. Instead, like the FAS office, not even the windows are cleaned these days.

If Baggot Street Upper village embedded with the environs of businesses like Sky, Bank of Ireland head office (now in Burlington Road) the Mespil hotel, IBEC just over the bridge, HRB, the government offices, cannot create a ‘silicon valley’ hub of initiative, then what hope has the rest of Ireland?

Diageo are said to be the landlords of Searsons – what have these corporates to say about neighbourhood incentives? What about Tesco? Tesco have non disclosure of accounts benefits being resident in Ireland; yet in the North of Ireland they contribute a voluntary local tax to their community. Why not in Baggot Street? It’s called the ‘Tesco Tax’. With honour they should make payments to their local communities.

If it is Diageo who own Searsons – what are you doing for Baggot Street Upper Village – the Baggotonia of our great poets and artists? Take a look at the advantages we have and embrace the necessary corporate social responsibility that ensures the survival the community so that when Ireland embraces the 2013 Gathering tourism drive, the visitors will embrace the culture and their objective will be to return to Ireland. 2016 (Centenary of the 1916 Rising) is mighty significant in geo-politics and it is less than three years away.

More news from the street is that Eaton Manufacturing have taken over the offices of IBM on Pembroke Road. It already is advertising jobs so this is good news. However, we hope they have a good sense for community as Google have in Dublin 2. Do you know that for over the age of 55’s Google provide one hour per week classes. This is what we need. We need communication. We need to know that landlords and especially not NAMA are charging fair rents for the fixity of tenure they expect.

The coffee shops in our little Village space are on their knees. Cutbacks of those little luxuries once served are now stripped to the bare bones yet these landlords are demanding exorbitant rents. Rumour has it that the Bagel is gone and so is Roddy. Here every day for years, his staff loyal, his customers too but his franchise failed to negotiate on his behalf to get the rent down. It is said that the rent for the small space he had was 50,000 euros pa. It can’t work as a business plan. Who owns these properties? Why can’t the Department of Justice intervene and create equity in these harrowing times for small businesses? What if the Landlord is ultimately NAMA and they are imposing these unjust, inequitable rents on businesses?

Baggot Street Upper Village, if the advantages were taken seriously’ should embrace the words smart and sustainable urban areas as is the focus in the US and other countries.


Friday July 26th, 2013 16:46

14 people living in ex Garda’s house.
Fire destroys – who counts the human costs?A moral bankruptcy festered and the time for change is now.

by Michelle Clarke  (Comyn)- Urban abandonments and derelictions

Over four years ago, those rogue landlords were warned that the housing conditions that they expected their tenants to live in, had to be made compliant with the current legislation which came into effect in February 2013. 5 years now deep in recession, the construction industry decimated and there are a certain cache of owner/landlords who invested in properties with the objective of earning rental income and who let out these properties in as many units as possible to maximise their earnings This breed of landlord (if the research and property tax payments for the LPT/Revenue Commissioners yields the data) will, in many cases, have avoided making tax returns for these dwellings. Add to this the probability of a lack of common decency or respect for the standards in which their tenants live. Many of these landlords were attracted to the old Georgian/Victorian properties to be found in Phibsboro, Rathmines, Ranelagh, Mountjoy Square often referred to as bedsit land.

How swiftly the rogue landlords chose to forget the slum dwellings of the 1960’s and 1970’s that created the social housing drive by Dublin Corporation and Dublin Co Council and the harsh living conditions ordinary Irish people were subjected too. Now we have new slums. We can’t blame the recent legislation because it is now 4 years ago that the warnings issued but the problem is the failure to enforce and now is the opportunity to ensure our rental property market is fit for purpose for the people who need accommodation. We can create jobs in the construction industry now based on the assumption that architects have ideas as to how best to convert our housing stock to suitable accommodation, compliant with the new legislation.

An earlier posting highlights the plight of a person who lived in one of these bedsits and the eviction notice because the owners decided to sell the property – the landlord died. This ‘threatened’ tenant represents many more who face eviction and in the absence of suitable homes and landlords who will not accept rent allowance, these people are threatened with becoming part of the homeless industry ie bedsits and hostels; especially with the social housing list now in excess of 100,000.

A house, a flat, a bedsit, shared floor space – we are talking about peoples’ homes. The owner of the property has obligations but too many times exploitation and greed determines the difference between the owner and the tenant. The new legislation if enforced has the capacity to generate employment in Ireland if only the Government can see the opportunity.

Sam Griffin in the Irish Independent quite rightly brings to our attention today about the conditions a house owned by an ex-Garda who had been ‘convicted of flouting fire safety rules’. The intense fire destroyed the house and homes of the people who lived there. Residents had to jump from windows to safety. The house which would once been a family home is now a home to an estimated 14 people – the property divided into flats. This could have been a massive tragedy with the loss of 14 lives, if not more.

“undermine public confidence” in the Gardai – ‘In December 2011, the High Court rejected the former Gardai’s challenge aimed at overturning his government sanctioned dismissal from the force’

Moral ethics and integrity is determined by the Courts of Justice in this former Garda’s case and we need more of same.


Thursday August 1st 2013

Subject: Piggy Back time: Try Billionaire’s Row, San Francisco, by  Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and dereliction
Date: Thu, 01 Aug 2013 19:24:53 +0100
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <Alan.Shatter@oireachtas.ie>, alex.white@oireachtas.ie, Averil Power <Averil.Power@Oireachtas.ie>, director@architecturefoundation.ie, joan.burton@oireachtas.ie <joan.burton@oireachtas.ie>, jsaunders@shineonline.ie, kieran.wallace@kpmg.ie, Kieran Loughran <LoughranK@headway.ie>, patricia.gilheaney@mhcirl.ie, Bill Martin <thecollins22society@gmail.com>

Piggy Back time: Try Billionaire’s Row, San Francisco

by Michelle Clarke Comyn – Urban abandonments and dereliction

Baggotonia: What can be done to make it thrive again?

Background: quoted from previous posting.
‘The coffee shops in our little Village space are on their knees. Cutbacks of those little luxuries once served are now stripped to the bare bones yet the landlords/owners are demanding exorbitant rents. Rumour has it that the Bagel is gone and so is the person who operated the Baggot Street Upper premises. (Over the weekend re-opened, repainted and new management). Here every day for years, his staff loyal, his customers too but his franchise failed to negotiate on his behalf to get the rent down. It is said that the rent for the small space he had was 50,000 euros pa. It can’t work as a business plan. Who owns these properties? Why can’t the Department of Justice intervene and create equity in these harrowing times for small businesses. What if the Landlord is ultimately NAMA and they are imposing these unjust, inequitable rents on businesses?’

How do we generate small business entrepreneurship?:

Jonathan Swift in the 16th century spoke of ‘giving vision to the visionless’.

Baggotonia is stifled because the foreboding Royal City of Dublin Hospital, a place of eminent medical renown stands bedraggled, unpainted, windows dirty, with the minimal services that primary health care manages to provide. A cost benefit analysis should be done immediately because this is a blatant waste of public resources and there is potential to drive this economy forward in the area of Baggotonia. Why? This area may no longer be known as home to as many billionaires as during the Celtic Tiger days but a lot of the old wealth survives and the houses for sale are still in the millions and are selling.

Vision:- We need some. Eaton Manufacturing have bought into the IBM offices on Pembroke Road, Dublin 4, so we await them eagerly to once again have people spending on the ‘street’, in the restaurants, the coffee houses, the pubs, the shops. Yesterday, another new business enters where Xtra-vision (it is said their rent was 140,000 euros per year) was forced to exit. Nobody could possibly have guessed the service to be marketed: the banks at one time used to provide the services holding property deeds, jewellery, files but now Sentinel Vaults have spotted the opportunity and are tapping the market in the key area of Dublin 4. Now people store digital data in these boxes. Welcome to St Martin’s House – which is reported to have been bought by German company.

Royal City of Dublin hospital. The news is that one of the eight primary care centres is to be placed at the Haddington Road side of the hospital. What are the plans for the hospital? A medical museum was suggested; but nobody has the necessary commitment to make things happen and without impetus Baggotonia is submerged by economic doom and gloom. Now they say there are 440,000+ unemployed so there is a reduction. Can we sustain this? We need to bolster locations with potential resources and create markets. We have Google in Dublin 2 with its head office for Europe in Ireland. We have the financial services in the IFSC; we have the universities – why can we not create something like what happened on Billionaires Row in San Francisco in Baggotonia.

Bloomberg Businessweek Technology sector – we in Ireland can learn so much by piggy-backing on the capacity and experience of others. The private equity firms like Blackstone, Kennedy Wilson are already honed in but we need to regain our self-belief and dignity and we need to enter back into the markets. There are people who hold considerable wealth in Ireland and we need to inspire them with ideas that they forget hoarding their money in Switzerland and such tax havens or in cash in our near state owned banks for near no return and engage them with the potential of our young people and risk-takers.

Let’s engage with the narrative around the Start-ups on San Francisco’s Billionaire’s Row. Three years ago, something extraordinary happened on Billionaires Row. Somebody decided to put a Mansion up for rent. The property was worth $8 million and the potential client was probably a financier or executive. Change happened. The house was leased to 8 entrepreneurs aged in their 30’s. The mansion ‘was morphed into a hive of start-up activity’. Imagine the potential for the Royal City of Dublin hospital, especially if there was an impetus for corporate social responsibility linked to people mental health and neurological conditions who if provided with the necessary resources could be rehabilitated back into the community.

These “incubator houses” have become a Silicon Valley trend. Take the example of the Rainbow Mansion in Cupertino, ‘which has its own website and 5,000 square feet of space to house employees from Apple and Google, as well as start-up junkies’. The outcome from this is that graduates from Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology ‘have set up rival start-up communes’ in San Francisco. Do we have anything similar to the “Dead Houses” network ie owned by the Dead, in Ireland? If interested, check out: Meetup.com “It would be a plus to find someone into the start-up scene and who likes to hack on side projects”. Job creation should be a thriving industry yet FAS in transition to Solas is no longer in Baggotonia and failed dismally to engage in vision and creation of space utilisation so it is mind boggling to imagine that in D’Olier Street they will become a haven of job creation and inspiration. Check out the postings on JobBridge FAS and the grassroots experiences of the people who will grow this economy.

The power of the people must be recognised. Look at Georgian Dublin and the empty offices. Properties are being sold now (4 storey over basement) for a little as £500,000. IBEC have their offices, the Trade Unions like Siptu have Liberty Hall, Google property is owned by NAMA (Ronan & Barrett). What we now need urgently is for people who are potential entrepreneurs to have access to locations that will support their start-ups. We have these locations, we just need to tap the talent of those multi-nationals who avail of our favourable tax rates. All these locations have Tesco stores. The North of Ireland have shamed Tesco into an element of corporate social responsibility known as the TESCO TAX. We need this paid in our local communities too. They are struggling and the adornment of flower baskets just hides the pain.

These Georgian houses create such a potential in Ireland. The renovation in line with the environment, the generation of employment in the construction industry and then the potential to be an entrepreneurial centre for start-ups ….. Take the example of Buckley aged 31 who co-founded DODOcase in 2010. ‘He used one part of the house to assemble the case, which looks like a bound book, and another for shipping. The company sold about $4 million worth in its first year, President Obama owns one – and now employs more than 20 people at a factory in San Francisco’

The idea is worth consideration. These mansions ensure the location and the entrepreneurs pay less per month to live in the Mansion than in a one bed apartment. They are in Billionaires Row in San Francisco immersed in the resources of wealth without the costs.

Apparently vacancies are unheard of! There are plenty of ‘entrepreneurs, robotics enthusiasts, and venture capitalists, who want to move in. Baggotonia has access to the resources, let the people share the vision and utilise the vacant spaces with vigour and drive.


Fri Aug 16, 2013 16:36

Subject: Follow this: Test case to take-over underwater mortgages. Check out: “Eminent Domain”, by Michelle Clarke Comyn – Urban Abandonments and dereliction
Date: Fri, 16 Aug 2013 18:58:41 +0100
From: Michelle Clarke <michelleclarke@upcmail.ie>
To: Vincent Browne <vincent.browne@tv3.ie>, secretariat@cori.ie
Follow this: Test case to take-over underwater mortgages. Check out: “Eminent Domain”

by Comyn – Urban Abandonments and dereliction 

Ok, it is in the US but let’s regard the financial crisis as a global, that private equity groups are lurking in the markets, and that piggy-backing can often work and if it does work in the US courts, then maybe some genuine mortgage defaulters can emerge from being underwater.

It’s the Pink Paper (Financial Times): The article is written by April Dembosky and Stephen Foley.

The man buys a house for $280,500 now worth $137,000 in sunny California. The horrors don’t end here, you must then factor in the loan, the added interest to the principle, and then add the deferred property tax bills that he incurred when he got sick with colon cancer (which if the truth is acknowledged is due to the stress caused by going into debt to become a home-owner). We know every day that there is someone in our own country going through a similar hell hole and is a victim of an under regulated banking bonanza. The Troika govern. The Central Bank complies. They now finally 5 years on are telling the state owned banks to engage with the ‘mortgage delinquents’ and where possible do a deal or with near immediate effect – Eviction.

To anyone in the mire, check out this court case:

“The city government is fighting to finance Mr Wilson and his neighbours. His address is included on a list of more than 600 properties it wants to take over with the help of Mortgage Resolution Partners (MRP), an investor group advised by Evercore Partners which plans to arrange funding for cities that want to compulsorily purchase loans, and Westwood Capital”.

It is a controversial scheme but worth looking at: The aim is to wrest the housing loans away from the big banks like JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and some 30 other banks by relying on a “novel” ‘ interpretation of ‘Eminent Domain’ law —– an idea spearheaded by Mortgage Resolution Partners. This case started last year and is being watched eagerly….. it is a test case.

The history of ‘Eminent Domain’ is where Municipalities seize private properties when the land is needed for a public project and by paying a fair price to the owners. What it means for Richmond and in several other US cities (and potentially in Ireland) is that where mass evictions and foreclosures are imminent, that ‘officials plan to use the law to seize the underwater mortgages from banks and replace them with new, cheaper loans based on the current home values to relieve the debt burden on citizens’.

The writing in Ireland is now on the wall. The banks are kicked into gear by the Troika and the Central bank so it is imperative we know the options and if this sort of deal could be organised then the moral hazard option would be replaced by people having their loans reduced to reflect the negative equity present value of their property with a write down of debt organised by those who orchestrated the crisis.

Watch this space. Those in mortgage arrears and negotiating with the banks, bear this in mind. Negotiation is underway. The get out clause is the Personal Insolvency but as yet it is not firmly in place. So prepare your case wisely.

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)


Thursday 12th September, 2013

Subject: Did you ever ask question about the utility of our Churches?,author by Forster – Urban abandonments and derelictionpublication date Wed Sep 11, 2013 16:34Report this post to the editors
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 2013 11:04:24 +0100
From: Michelle Clarke <michelleclarke@upcmail.ie>
To: Contact <contact@tascnet.ie>, James Reilly <james.reilly@oireachtas.ie>, jan.osullivan@oireachtas.ie, Jimmy Deenihan <jimmy.deenihan@oireachtas.ie>, joan.burton@oireachtas.ie <joan.burton@oireachtas.ie>, secretariat@cori.ie, Vincent Browne <vincent.browne@tv3.ie>

Did you ever ask question about the utility of our Churches?

by Michelle Clarke (Forster) – Urban abandonments and dereliction

Homelessness is getting worse than ever according to Fr McVerry and truthfully it is the case because the urban villages of our cities, as winter approaches, are sought after locations for people to beg in the hope of having the money for a hostel, at worst for the night, or at best the e50 needed for the week.

Francis of Assisi is worth a thought these days. He lived life, he loved animals and he worked with the poor (mind, body and spirit). News from Rome today according to the Irish Times and excerpt from Reuters, is a message that we need to hear especially in Ireland which has so many under-occupied churches, seminaries, convents. Pope Francis said that ’empty church buildings should house refugees’ and we can be bold enough to assume that this includes all people who are vulnerable to eviction and to homelessness. I recall many years ago hearing that in Japan this policy was carried out by the Catholic Church so why not in Ireland and now? The quays of Dublin City Centre and for that matter in Thomas Street, Dublin 8 have too many closed churches and the only message this gives is abuse of power and waste of opportunities for people in need. We need greater awareness and if we need to consider what was recently said by Pope Francis about food and the waste of food – it is about “stealing from the poor’. These churches could provide accommodation but more importantly industry, art, teaching, support, education, inter-generational interaction. It should be about a new beginning.

Pope Francis further states (and this should apply to other religions like the Pentecostal Church and the Hade family under investigation reference the DPP) that “Empty convents and monasteries should not be turned into hotels by the church to earn money….{the buildings} are not ours, they are the flesh of Christ, which is what the refugees are”. Pope Francis spoke to a private audience in the Jesuit Astalli Centre for refugees”. Pope Francis went on to say that ‘looking after the poor should not be only the work of “specialists” but engaged in by all members of the church. He then identified that a large source of the problems encountered by people today is in the fear they have for the word “Solidarity” especially those in the developed world. Its not about being a member of the Catholic Church; it is about the code of conduct that enables society to work an optimum that tries to foster a system of equality.

Waste not want not is basic to the code. Brother Kevin feeds daily the ever increasing numbers of people who are in need of food but there is more that can be done. Enterprise is about creation and resources exist in people that need to be tapped. With so many people now unemployed and vast amounts of vacant buildings like Churches, convents, seminaries which need to be re-invigorated with that spirit of creativity, there is a blatant need for revival. Silicon Valley is a location where geeks gathered and created the digital revolution with vast sums of money. Who is to say that spaces that are vacant and bereft of a sense of life and living cannot be revitalised.

Ireland needs a little honesty about the housing lists for those who need social housing. Since the Independence of this Republic when one third of people in the city of Dublin lived in tenements multi-family tenanted units that were once houses to the gentry, great progress and lots of building of homes was carried out. This building virtually stopped during the Celtic Tiger period and people who would normally have received housing from the State were inveigled by the banks and the State into the rush to be a home owner. Ultimately it is not too extreme to blame them partially for the negative equity crisis we are now immersed in. There must be an equation that states that from 2000-2012 x houses would have been built for social housing needs and they were not constructed so now we will do a deal with NAMA thru agencies like NABCO and other housing associations to provide people with accommodation.

Now there is a thought to stop urban abandonment and dereliction in its tracks. Time to cut out the bureaucratic nonsense with Priory Hall in particular. To watch a mother of two children talk about the suicide of her husband and for what. Banks sending out letters warning them to re-structure a debt and telling them they owed e17,000 to service the debt for a home they were basically evicted from two years prior. This is a nonsense.


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4 Responses to Citizen Journalism Ireland: Urban abandonments to crisis in housing by Michelle Clarke (January, April, July, August 2014 including selection of emails to Government members et al in 2013). Good news 12/3/17 The Sunday Times: “Ex-Davy brokers spend e40 million on Georgian Homes”

  1. Pingback: CITIZEN JOURNALISM: Urban abandonments to crisis in housing by Michelle Clarke (July, August 2014 including selection of emails to Government members et al in 2013) | canisgallicus

  2. Pingback: CITIZEN JOURNALISM: Urban abandonments to crisis in housing by Michelle Clarke (January, July, August 2014 including selection of emails to Government members et al in 2013) | canisgallicus

  3. Pingback: CITIZEN JOURNALISM: Urban abandonments to crisis in housing by Michelle Clarke (January, April, July, August 2014 including selection of emails to Government members et al in 2013) | canisgallicus

  4. michelleclarke2015 says:

    Reblogged this on canisgallicus and commented:

    “No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.” Booker T Washington

    Like

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