Housing Crisis in Ireland: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It

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The housing crisis in Ireland has reached alarming levels, with a deficit estimated at up to 256,000 homes. The Housing Commission, established as part of the Programme for Government, has called for a radical reset of housing policy. Here’s a breakdown of what the government has done wrong and what needs to be done to fix it. Housing Crisis in Ireland: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It

Government Failures

1. Ineffective Decision Making

The Housing Commission’s report points to “ineffective decision making and reactive policy making where risk aversion dominates.” This has led to a lack of proactive strategies and a failure to address the housing crisis in a timely manner.

2. Insufficient Housing Supply

Despite claims of progress, the government has not met the housing demand. The Housing Commission estimates a housing deficit of up to 256,000 homes, citing the need for “emergency delivery” of an average of 23,500 homes annually just to address the existing shortfall.

3. High Public Expenditure, Poor Outcomes

The report highlights that Ireland has one of the highest levels of public expenditure for housing in Europe but also one of the poorest outcomes. This inefficiency points to mismanagement and ineffective use of resources.

4. Delays and Inflation

High inflation in the construction industry and delays in the planning system have further exacerbated the housing crisis. These issues have slowed down the delivery of new homes, pushing more people into housing insecurity.

5. Inadequate Long-Term Planning

The government has failed to develop a sustainable, long-term housing strategy. The commission notes that while specific details in housing delivery can be complex, the overall strategy to achieve a sustainable housing system is not complicated.

6. Lack of Transparency

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald criticized the government for the lack of transparency, stating that the Housing Commission report “wouldn’t have seen the light of day if RTÉ hadn’t broken the story.” This indicates a reluctance to openly address the housing crisis.

Proposed Solutions

1. Radical Policy Reset

The Housing Commission calls for a radical strategic reset of housing policy. This involves moving away from reactive policies to more proactive, long-term planning.

2. Increased Housing Targets

Current targets under the Government’s Housing for All plan are insufficient. The Housing Commission suggests that an annual delivery of 56,000 homes is needed between 2025 and 2034 to meet both the deficit and future housing requirements.

3. Boosting Social and Cost-Rental Housing

A targeted increase in the proportion of social and cost-rental housing to 20% of the national stock is essential. This would ensure more affordable housing options for those in need.

4. Establishing a Housing Delivery Oversight Executive

To drive coordination across legislation, regulation, and administrative practices, the commission recommends establishing a Housing Delivery Oversight Executive. This body would ensure streamlined and effective implementation of housing policies.

5. Increased Funding

Significant increases in both private and public funding are required to meet housing needs. The commission estimates that €16-€20 billion per annum is necessary, far above the current allocation of nearly €7 billion.

6. Addressing Planning and Inflation Issues

Urgent reforms are needed to address delays in the planning system and high inflation in the construction industry. Streamlined processes and better cost management can help accelerate housing delivery.

Why Only Sinn Féin Can Fix It

The current government has had ample time to address the housing crisis but has failed to deliver meaningful results. Sinn Féin has consistently highlighted these issues and pushed for more transparent, efficient, and people-centered housing policies. A change in government is necessary to implement the radical changes required to resolve the housing crisis effectively.

Sinn Féin’s commitment to holding the government accountable and proposing realistic, impactful solutions positions them as the party capable of addressing the housing deficit. With their focus on transparency, long-term planning, and social equity, Sinn Féin offers a hopeful alternative to the current government’s failed policies.

Housing Crisis in Ireland: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It

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