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Policy issues concerning Housing

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.

Almost 10,000 people accessed emergency accommodation in February 2018.   Research released today by the Central Bank of Ireland suggests that almost 35,000 more are at risk of homelessness through late stage mortgage arrears.

Homelessness in Ireland has reached another all-time high. Most shockingly, the increase of 7.5 per cent in a month (more than 700 people) was driven mainly by increased child-homelessness. There are now almost 10,000 homeless people in Ireland. This includes 3,755 children.

Government needs to move away from reliance on the private rented sector to provide solutions to Ireland's housing crisis.  This was echoed by the OECD last week in their recommendation that Ireland seek longer-term solutions that prioritise housing supply.  Cost-rental may provide one such public housing solution which allows the State to recover the cost of housing provision while providing security of rent for tenants currently experiencing double-digit rent inflation.

In the most recent, and high-profile, mortgage sale, Permanent TSB this week announced its intention to sell 14,000 non-performing mortgage loans.  Some commentators have suggested that, instead of selling these loans, that individual borrowers be allowed to ‘make a deal’ with the lender to buy the loan at the intended sale price.  However, this solution is too simplistic. 

The Daft.ie Rental Report released today showed that private rents continue to rise in Ireland, with average rent nationally now standing at €1,227 and reaching a high of €1,995 in South County Dublin.
There were 85,799 households (235,947 people) on the social housing waiting list in June 2017, a decrease of 6% from September 2016, however over half of that decrease is attributable to transfers from Rent Supplement to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

While the economy is doing well, it is crucial that policy-makers realise that many on lower incomes are not benefiting as they should. Almost 800,000 people in Ireland are living in poverty, a quarter of a million of whom are children. 1 million people in Ireland are experiencing deprivation. 105,000 people are working in a job with income so low they are living in poverty. Social Justice Ireland has a plan to fix this, and to build a fairer society for all.

The current approach to housing policy in Ireland is not working; the private sector will never build social housing units on the scale required.  Government must commit to building sufficient social housing units to eliminate the current housing waiting list.  This is the only way to address Ireland’s ongoing housing and homelessness crisis.  This is a key finding of Social Justice Ireland's National Social Monitor 2017.

A Right to Housing

This paper explores a basic income in the context of a right to housing.  It was first presented at a policy conference 'Basic Income - Radical Utopia or practical Solution?’ and published in the accompanying book.  Also available to download is the presentation and a cartoonist’s interpretation of the paper.

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