Social Housing Policy Research Wins University College Dublin’s Inaugural Impact Case Study Competition

Dublin, Ireland, 28 September 2017, Professor Michelle Norris, Head, UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, has been declared overall winner of University College Dublin’s (UCD) inaugural research impact case study competition.

Professor Norris, whose teaching and research interests focus on social housing policy and urban regeneration, is also currently chair of the Housing Finance Agency.

Her research findings into the funding of social housing following Ireland’s economic crash in 2007-08 subsequently influenced a change in Government policy on the provision and funding of social housing for low-income households.

Professor Norris’ research at UCD was focused on understanding the factors which had undermined the financial sustainability of Irish social housing and how this sector is financed more effectively in other European countries. Her findings indicated that reliance on central government grants had rendered Irish social housing vulnerable to cuts during periods of fiscal retrenchment.

Her conclusion was that replacing grants with loans, (repaid with tenants’ rents) would spread the costs involved in providing social housing and make it more affordable for Government and also enable the sector to draw on private sector funding.

The research impact case study competition is a new initiative established by UCD Research and Innovation to build capacity throughout the university in the area of capturing and articulating research impact.

The competition offers UCD researchers an opportunity to develop a short written case study, with illustrative images, to highlight the impact of their research to predominantly external and non-specialist audiences.

Further evidence of Professor Norris’ impact is demonstrated by her appointment by the Government as Chair of the Housing Finance Agency in 2011 and her re-appointment in 2017.

This Agency, which currently manages €3.6 billion in outstanding loans, borrows on international markets to finance social housing and mortgages for low-income borrowers. Earlier this year the Agency signed a loan agreement with the European Investment Bank for €405 million in loan finance for social housing.

Professor Michelle Norris, UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, said, “I am delighted to have won the inaugural UCD research impact case study competition which recognises the impact of my research on the development of Government policy. My research findings are assisting the Irish Government, through the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan, to provide more social housing for low-income households which is vital to resolve housing undersupply, unaffordability and homelessness but challenging to provide due to public spending constraints.”

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said, “I would like to congratulate Professor Norris on winning the inaugural UCD research impact case study competition. Her research has had a significant impact on influencing Government policy on the supply, provision and funding of social housing and strategies for implementing these policies. The impact of her research is also evidenced by its inclusion in policy statements and parliamentary debates, her appointment to boards of relevant government agencies and policy advisors.”

She added, “We were delighted with the response of our research community to this impact competition. Its aim is to encourage researchers, regardless of their discipline, to consider the impact of their research and to outline and share this impact, with a wider audience, through a short case study.”

Just under 40 case studies were submitted as entries for the inaugural competition. The case studies were judged by a panel, composed of internal and external experts, on three main criteria; capture and articulation; scale and significance and beneficiaries and reach.