Ireland: Covid-19 shows new housing direction needed (Opinion piece, Irish Examiner, 3 June 2020)

  • Covid-19 shows we need a new housing direction in Ireland

  • By Dr Rory Hearne (Author of the book Housing Shock: The Irish Housing Crisis & How to Solve it). Published in the Irish Examiner on 3 June 2020

  • Summary:

    • The pandemic has exposed the vast inequalities and dysfunctions of Ireland’s housing system

    • Dr Hearne argues that "The dominant housing policy paradigm has treated housing as an investment asset rather than its vital role as a home that ensures the health and dignity of those living in it."

    • He also highlights that in his book, Housing Shock, he identified the structural problems in the Irish housing system, "including the overreliance on the private market and global investors to provide housing." Ireland went from building 5,300 social housing units a year in 2009 to just 400 units in 2017.

    • From the article:

      • "Private housing supply is likely to reduce as investors and developers shelve projects in the face of falling rents and house prices. Wage cuts and unemployment will mean fewer mortgage approvals. Landlords will have to reduce rents."

      • A permanent home will become even more out of reach for Generation Rent. Demand for student accommodation could fall as students live at home rather than house share.

      • He calls for a national housing plan that aims to bring Ireland’s public housing stock (currently just 9% of all housing is social housing) up to levels in countries with the most successful housing systems such as the Netherlands (30% of housing is social housing) and Austria (where 43% of housing in Vienna is public housing).

      • He further calls for the creation of a dedicated Affordable Sustainable Homes Building agency. It would be a public enterprise body that would ensure "the building of between 20,000 and 30,000 new public “affordable and sustainable homes” every year, for the next decade and a major retrofitting programme."

  • Keywords: coronavirus, Covid-19, Ireland, housing conditions, access to housing, housing policy, public housing

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