Housing should be at the cornerstone of our life, providing us with safety and security, and also the opportunity to flourish and realise our aspirations. If it had its rightful place in society, housing would be present in the background of our lives; so familiar that it would soon be taken for granted. Sadly, this has rarely been the case in Ireland. Everyone needs a home, and this is more than a house. But in Ireland, we cannot even reliably provide houses.
Since at least the middle of the Celtic Tiger economic boom, housing in Ireland has been a source of injustice and much distress for people and families. From the purchase or rental of a home being beyond the reach of the financial resources of many, to the prevalence of unfinished housing estates scarring the countryside, to the previously unfathomable growth in homelessness – especially for children – housing policy has produced many social ills. Housing, in particular the acute lack of social housing and affordable homes, has come to occupy the forefront of many minds. What changed was that the concept of housing as a home shifted to instead become housing as a commodity from which maximum value must be extracted.
The JCFJ, offers robust and considered analysis on housing and homelessness in a variety of outputs including reports, policy briefs, op-eds, and blog posts. Our current policy focus is on critiquing how social housing is currently provided and making recommendations about new policies or policy reforms needed to address the acute lack of publicly-developed and -owned housing. We advocate to other actors in politics and civil society to see our recommendations implemented within party manifestos and ultimately in government policy.
Housing policy, while sometimes considered as a lone issue, is analysed from the perspective of the other strands within the JCFJ’s work; economic justice, penal reform, and environmental justice. The current housing situation is a result of ongoing decisions within a neoliberal framing of society. Future housing policy must integrate environmental concerns with every decision seeking to mitigate climate breakdown. Where the State reneges on its obligations to provide housing which is high-standard, affordable, and well-planned, we highlight the disparities and provide constructive paths forward.
Author: Keith Adams