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Policy issues concerning Housing

On Thursday, 4th October 2018, the Dáil passed a motion to declare housing and homelessness a national emergency.  The motion, following a demonstration by over 10,000 people and brought by Solidarity – People before Profit, called on Government to declare this emergency and to do something to increase the supply of affordable, sustainable homes.

On Wednesday (26th September 2018), the Housing Agency published its now annual Summary of Housing Assessments for 2018. Figures gathered in June of this year show that 71,858 households were assessed as being in need of social housing, compared to 85,799 in 2017. However, while the apparent reduction of 13,941 has been heralded by Minister for State Damien English as “a positive sign of the success of the Rebuilding Ireland Actions Plan so far”, the truth is that the housing crisis is worsening as Government continues to look to the private sector for solutions.

The Government has failed to respond adequately to our nation’s housing crisis. There are almost 87,000 households on social housing waiting lists - over half of whom are families - and 10,000 homeless, of whom 3,600 are children. This is a national emergency. The impact of homelessness and precarious housing on our nation’s children will be felt for generations to come.

Last week (27th July 2018), the Government launched its Vacant Housing Reuse Strategy 2018-2021, aimed at bringing existing vacant properties back into use.  According to the CSO, there are over 183,000 vacant properties, excluding holiday homes, across the State.  Many of these could be brought under the control of the local authority or Approved Housing Bodies and used to provide social homes.  However, while Social Justice Ireland supports the intention of the Strategy, we note that it does not propose to actually bring these homes back into use until next year or the year after.

In their report for the Community Foundation of Ireland, The Future of Council Housing, An analysis of the financial sustainability of local authority provided social housing, Prof. Michelle Norris and Dr. Aideen Hayden examine the existing structures for the provision of social housing to low income households and recommends the introduction of a Cost Rental model of social housing provision.

Social Justice Ireland submitted to the Department of An Taoiseach on the Draft National Risk Assessment 2018.  In our submission, we urge Government to view the absence of a progressive tax system and lack of infrastructure development as real and immediate risks and to take necessary steps to address them.

A new report by the CSO has shown that housing construction was consistently been overreported by Government between 2011 and 2017, by almost 60%, a total of 31,576 dwellings. 

The lack of quality, affordable, long-term rental properties; double-digit rent inflation and the continued use of private rent subsidies for families in need of a real social housing response only serves to add to the problem. It’s time to think of alternatives, and alternative ways to finance sustainable and affordable homes.

Last week (12th April 2018), the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government released its Review of Delivery Costs and Viability for Affordable Residential Developments, which enumerated the many reasons why providing affordable homes was difficult.  There are many issues with this report, primarily with the lack of urgency in the Government’s response to this national emergency, however one glaring problem is its viability and affordability model.  It is neither viable nor affordable.

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