According to the Government the aim of Irish housing policy is “to enable every household to have available an affordable dwelling of good quality, suited to its needs, in a good environment, and, as far as possible, at the tenure of its choice”. Despite these noble aspirations There are still thousands of families in Ireland homeless, or living in sub-standard accommodation, we can however achieve those noble aspirations if the government is determined to deliver on that promise.
A house is for some a necessity (a place to live) and for many others a house is an investment opportunity. A house can provide financial security in old age, or an asset to be passed on to your children or family members as an inheritance. (a mortgage is internationally recognized as the best investment scheme ever) but instead spend your money now. Capitalists would prefer if instead of you buying a house to live in (accumulating wealth and passing it on down to your family), that you would rent a house from them, (so that they can accumulate wealth and pass it on to their shareholders). The dramatic rise in build to rent apartment blocks, assisted by the governments fast tracking of planning for these developments is ample proof of the governments preference.
The Government could solve the Housing crisis by:
The establishment of a single National Housing Authority to manage the National housing stock, and declaring a ”Housing Emergency” allowing the State to compulsorily purchase any vacant accommodation and renting it at an affordable rent to those homeless or those on the housing waiting list. These homes should be made available through local estate agents at market rates in the same way as for other private rental properties. removing from local authorities the role of “landlord”, ending waiting lists and the interference by local Councillors in the allocation of local authority housing.
The establishment of a single National House Building Agency charged with the building and regeneration of social accommodation in mixed developments of owner occupied and “for rent” communities to provide for the citizens a place of residence, and to meet the basic human right to a place of shelter befitting a dignified human existence. Many existing residential estates, both private and local authority, are no better than slums, and are a breeding ground for social problems, including domestic breakdown, crime, and unemployment. Regenerating these estates, providing mixed affordable housing, building the schools and infrastructure needed to turn these into viable communities is not impossible, but may be politically unacceptable.
There are empty houses in many parts of the country where there are schools and hospitals threatened with closure because of lack of demand for their services. Encouraging those on the waiting lists to relocate to these areas would help to solve the demographic imbalance, and the housing crisis. A comprehensive program including, housing, financial support, and community employment (if required). Those who refuse to relocate without good reason should be taken off the housing list
The Economic and Social benefits
Improving the attractiveness of Ireland as a location for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) would be enhanced as staff find accommodation affordable.
The easing of the upward pressure on wages, as workers constantly try to keep up with rising house prices, and rental costs.
The burden on the State of domestic rent subsidies and income support for those on low incomes would be reduced.