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Housing

700,000 on healthcare waiting lists, 500,000 homes without broadband, over 11,000 people homeless – a result of Government policy failing to tackle causes - Social Justice Ireland publishes National Social Monitor Winter 2018.

In order to improve the wellbeing of everyone in society, at all stages of the life cycle, it is vital that our policies address the causes of problems rather than their symptoms only.  It is through this lens that Social Justice Ireland examines the ten policy areas in the National Social Monitor. 

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.

This section of our National Social Monitor Autumn 2018 provides a brief insight into the housing and homelessess crisis in Ireland, reviewing the construction data, mortgage arrears statistics and homelessnes figures and proposing a number of policy priorities to tackle the causes of these issues.

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.

With 10,000 people - including 3,600 children - homeless, 72,000 mortgages in arrears, and 87,000 households on social housing waiting lists, it can hardly be denied that Government policy is a dramatic failure.

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.

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