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Friday 24 February 2017

Are older people the solution?

Ronan Lyons

The new Minister for Housing Simon Coveney. Photo: RollingNews.ie
The new Minister for Housing Simon Coveney. Photo: RollingNews.ie

The new Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney, recently highlighted two areas that he believed could help alleviate the severe shortage of accommodation across the country and particularly in Dublin. The first was student accommodation and, in brief, the argument is that providing significantly greater numbers of purpose-built student accommodation will free up a large part of the private rented sector for the rest of the market, in particular low-income families.

The second area the minister highlighted relates to older people living in large family homes. This is undoubtedly a sensitive subject - an ESRI report earlier in the year, which actually called for greater opportunities for older people to stay living in their communities, was generally perceived to have portrayed older people as something similar to the health system's "bed blockers".

Clearly, the solution to the shortage of housing is not as simple as somehow coaxing older people out of their homes. Sure, we might coax them out - but then where would they go? The answer, of course, comes back to supply, and supply of the right kind.

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