When published on 19th July 2016, the Irish Government’s Rebuilding Ireland action plan for housing and homelessness described the Irish housing sector as ‘dysfunctional and under-performing’. Three years later, by practically every metric, the crisis has deepened, leading Peter McVerry SJ to label it ‘an abject failure‘. Rebuilding ‘Rebuilding Ireland’, our analysis of the plan, critiques the failure of its stated aims and offers pragmatic solutions.
The JCFJ team has written a critique of the stated aims of Rebuilding Ireland, and the ways in which each of its five pillars have effectively collapsed. Rebuilding ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ highlights the fact that homelessness has been normalised in the time since the plan launched. In the past three years, it has increased by two-thirds and now stands at more than 10,000 people, a figure that does not include many thousands more who make up the ‘hidden homeless’. Since 2016, social housing has been redefined, and is now provided privately, due to the HAP scheme, on which the Government spends more than €2 million a day.
“The official figures for those who are homeless has been above 10,000 for most of this year, which is 65% higher than when the plan intended to solve this problem was launched. That the figure is so high it ought to be a cause of national shame to a society as wealthy as contemporary Ireland.” Fr Peter McVerry SJ
The responsibility of building more homes has been left almost exclusively to private developers, something which has been catastrophic for market affordability. The rental crisis has reached new heights, and the creation of rental pressure zones, which 65% of the homes available to rent in Ireland are now located within, has added to this. The number of listings on the AirBnB website skyrocketed during the past three years, making profit for those who are homeowners and making properties unavailable to those in need of a home.
The JCFJ urges the Government to adopt a fundamentally different approach to housing policy which does not have the market at its core. It must: vastly increase the construction of publicly owned housing; introduce legislation making it illegal to evict households into homelessness, for at three years; expand the mortgage-to-rent scheme; integrate intergenerational community planning, and; make housing policy the frontline of environmental policy.
© Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice 2019