Oireachtas committee hears a third of Irish housing should be under public ownership

Posted 27 September, 2018

Professor Michelle Norris giving evidence to the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
  • Dr Aideen Hayden said 30% of all Irish homes needed to be publicly-owned to balance the housing system.
  • Professor Michelle Norris advocated for a new method of funding social housing.
  • The UCD academics co-authored a recent report on the future of council housing.

A third of homes in Ireland should be in the hands of local councils, experts say.

Giving evidence to an Oireachtas committee, Professor Michelle Norris and Dr Aideen Hayden, from the UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, argued public ownership of housing is vital to tackling the housing crisis.

“There needs to be somewhere in the region of 30% of all housing provided through local authority or public housing in order to give balance to the housing system,” Dr Hayden told the Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government.

“And that’s really the bottom line of where we’re coming from on this.”

Having co-authored a report on the future of council housing published in July, the University College Dublin academics criticised the current funding of social housing through central Government grants.

“When the grants are available in times of plenty, the cost of building homes and buying up land is at a premium,” said Professor Norris.

“But in times of recession when the value of the land is at its lowest, such grants are the first to be slashed.”

She continued, outlining to the Oireachtas committee how a European method of funding using loans to local councils - paid back over long periods of time - would be more effective and affordable.

The report, The Future of Council Housing, advocated for higher rental rents for social housing, and advised councils to suspend tenants’ right to buy their council home.

The study noted that exchequer funding for social housing was cut by 82% during the last recession.

Introduced in the 1930s, the tenant purchase scheme has lead to two-thirds of all council housing now being privately owned.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations