Tuesday 18 June 2019

Embracing innovation is key to solve the housing crisis

Government reliance on the private sector for deliverance of the 30,000 homes needed each year guarantees the 'housing emergency' will get worse. Stock Image: Bloomberg
Government reliance on the private sector for deliverance of the 30,000 homes needed each year guarantees the 'housing emergency' will get worse. Stock Image: Bloomberg
Editorial

Editorial

In trying to break patterns of failure, it has been noted there are several ways of moving forward, but only one of standing still; sadly this is the position our Government has taken on housing: intransigent, immutable and impervious to the social hardship its stance is causing.

For the first time in the history of our country, we have families unable to afford to buy or even rent a home.

The trap for a huge chunk of the working population is that they are earning too much for State support, yet too little to afford mortgages.

Government reliance on the private sector for deliverance of the 30,000 homes needed each year guarantees the "housing emergency" will get worse.

In the last two Budgets, a €2.3bn annual allocation was thrown at housing, and yet we are going backwards.

We have 10,000 homeless, and 72,000 of our people are on housing lists.

A game-changer is needed but the Government refuses to cast aside its play-book of perpetual failure on housing.

People desperately need homes. There are solutions, but the Government inexplicably refuses to engage with them. Today we reveal how the State has land enough to build 114,000 homes.

The template for change and the key to transform the situation is already in its hands should it choose to use it. The hugely innovative Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance - a Ballymun-based co-operative - has been delivering homes since 2014. Dublin City Council, with commendable foresight, provided it with land at a greatly reduced price.

Each buyer pays a booking deposit of 4pc, and the co-op makes sure each unit is funded before going ahead.

It is able to deliver homes at €200,000. The idea has caught on. The Ballymun co-op is approaching other councils around the country. Now employers in Wicklow are asking the IDA to release 12 out of a 63-acre site, to allow a similar development to be built.

It would be bank-rolled by firms in a similar co-op. But they have been turned down.

Yesterday we revealed how local authorities are failing to buy up derelict or vacant houses.

This at a time when rocketing rents are swallowing 40pc of family incomes.

The State must change its thinking and embrace such innovation and incorporate it at the heart of Government policy.

Roosevelt said it was far better to dare mighty things, than to live in the "grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat".

Stagnation amounts to inexcusable abdication at a time of such need; especially when State agencies have the land, and the Government has the money.

Irish Independent

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