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Policy issues concerning Housing

A publication on Social Housing in Ireland 2019 – Analysis of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme released by the CSO in November 2020 indicates that some 57,630 households in need of social housing were accommodated in the private rented sector by the end of 2019. Social Justice Ireland has long-argued that this is not a sustainable housing model for low income households, given the recent volatility in the private rented sector, and continues to call on Government to increase the stock of social housing to 20 per cent of total housing stock by the year 2030.

Budget 2021 saw a regrettable extension of the Help to Buy Scheme. Here, Social Justice Ireland takes a look at the numbers and why this Scheme is regressive.

Despite a significant allocation of over €3 billion to Housing in Budget 2021, the same old policies provide little public housing.

The provision of adequate and appropriate accommodation should be a key element of a new Social Contract. Here we look at how Budget 2021 could begin the process of a new, sustainable, housing strategy.

As housing policy continues on an increasingly private pathway, more of us are accommodated through the private rented sector.  We need to redesign this sector to reflect its increasing use a tenure of choice and necessity to protect the rights of tenants and to make it more affordable.  We need to uncouple our basic housing need from the boom-bust cycle of the property market.  One mechanism to address affordability is to introduce a cost rental system to scale.

According to the Social Housing Needs Assessments 2019, published in December 2019, there were 68,693 households on the waiting list for social housing, presenting as a decrease of 4.4 per cent on the previous year.  However, the truth is that the housing crisis is worsening as Government continues to look to the private sector for solutions. Time to set a new social housing target of 20 per cent of all housing stock.

Housing in Ireland has been mired in controversy for decades – from tenement slums to planning irregularities, and from substandard housing to the institutionalisation of households in emergency accommodation and Direct Provision.  Social Justice Ireland has previously advocated for a 5-Pillar Framework for a new Social Contract.  These Pillars are a Vibrant Economy; Decent Services and Infrastructure; Just Taxation; Good Governance; and Sustainability.  In this article, we explore what those five Pillars might contain in the context of housing, as an example.

Ireland and much of the rest of the world is facing into a major economic recession as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The circumstances and causes of this recession are very different from those that caused the recession in 2008/2009, but there are still lessons that can and should be learned. One of those lessons relates to government’s fiscal response. Faced with a recession that will exceed any in living memory, government must act on a scale that exceeds anything implemented during the financial crisis of a decade ago.

The most pressing piece of health advice, apart from washing your hands, to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for social distancing.  But for thousands of people living in emergency homeless accommodation, Direct Provision, refuges and Travellers living in cramped conditions, social distancing just isn’t an option.  The announcement yesterday of 650 spaces being made available is a welcome step, but doesn’t go nearly far enough.  There are over 245,000 vacant properties across Ireland.  Property website Daft.ie reported a 13% increase in rental advertisements this month.  Now is the time to utilise emergency powers and #MoveTheVulnerableOut.

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