From top: Simon Coveney launching the government’s housing action plan yesterday; Anne Marie McNally
Rebuilding Ireland recognises that many of the author’s generation will likely never be in a position to purchase their own home.
Anne Marie McNally writes:
Yesterday the Government launched another housing report-this one called Rebuilding Ireland and to be fair, for the most part it’s good. It’s honest and I believe Minister [Simon] Coveney is a Minister that actually does like to get things done and mostly the right things.
In launching the report he described it as far-reaching and ambitious and that it is.
Indeed quite a few of the proposals in it will be familiar to anyone who has read the Social Democrats manifesto or our housing policy document.
And that’s great. A good idea is a good idea no matter where it’s coming from and once the end result is ultimately delivered I personally am less bothered about who takes the credit or not.
The report recognises that the current homelessness emergency is a very different beast from the homelessness problems that have always been a feature of city living.
It recognises that we now have functioning families going to work on a daily basis from a position of homelessness.
It recognises that we have families sleeping on relatives’ couches and families being split up simply because one relative be can take some while another relative or friend will take the other members of the family.
It also recognises that so many of my generation and the one coming up behind me will likely never be in a position to purchase their own home.
Those people are the ones for whom a Vibrant, sustainable rental market is necessary in order to provide a housing option where they can have security of tenure, rent certainty and the long-term option which allows them to plan a family life and/or put down roots without ever having to buy.
Many, even if they can afford a mortgage, would prefer to rent if they knew it could provide them with a level of security which it currently does not.
The downsides of the report manifest in a number of ways most notably in its over-reliance on the relatively new HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) scheme which is essentially an outsourcing of social housing to private landlords.
It has been plagued with problems thus far with people being forced to top-up the payment in order to pay the rents asked by the private landlords.
Those people accepting a HAP property lose their place on the housing waiting list and are effectively shunted off into someone else’s property with very little security of tenure. It is not a great environment to encourage the putting down of roots and the subsequent community building.
For too long housing in this country has been viewed in terms of bricks and mortar and property prices. Not enough emphasis has been given to the creation of vibrant, sustainable communities with good social mix, decent tenure mix and property type mix.
Those elements, and the people who feel secure enough to call a place home are what create communities not bricks and mortar.
Anne Marie McNally is a founding member of the Social Democrats. Follow Anne Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally