You are here

Housing

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.

Additional supply of affordable homes is a key part of addressing the housing crisis, but what of those in precarious housing situations?  In this article we look at those on the social housing waiting lists and those in mortgage difficulty.

The expansion and contraction of capital spending on housing by central government demonstrates just how volatile this basic necessity for low-income families is, and how responsive to economic shocks. 

Social justice matters. That is why Social Justice Ireland publishes our annual socio-economic review. This book is about charting a course to a fairer Ireland. Social Justice Matters 2020 provides an analysis of the present situation on a wide range of issues and identifies a programme of initiatives and policies that can address our challenges in an integrated and sustainable manner.

Following triple-digit rates of increase in child and family homelessness since 2014, a decrease in the number of homeless people accessing emergency accommodation was evident in the months of November and December 2019.  A month-on-month decrease in December figures is expected, as Christmas approaches and more emergency beds are made available, however the decrease in November is unusual.  Is this a statistical anomaly or is child and family homelessness really decreasing?  With the state of data collection on homelessness in Ireland described as “statistical obfuscation if not corruption” in a 2019 report commissioned by the European Commission, it can be hard to tell.  There is a need for robust data collection in all policy areas, but particularly those affecting the most vulnerable. In its Policy Brief on Affordable Housing:  Better data and policies to fight homelessness in the OECD, the OECD looks at ways to improve data collection, and therefore evidence-based policies, on homeless. 

There are 10,448 people accessing emergency accommodation, including 1,685 families.  There are 68,693 households on the social housing waiting lists.  There are more vacant homes than households on the social housing waiting list in every county.  Read Social Justice Ireland's Election Briefing on Housing for an outline of a number of key challenges facing Ireland and some policy proposals that should be in the next Programme for Government.

Pages