Rebuilding Blocks

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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

Pic: Rollingnews

26 thoughts on “Rebuilding Blocks

  1. kellma

    I agree. I think we really need to focus on making renting a more secure place for people. Compared with many other countries, the situation here is a very insecure one to find oneself in. Even if you want to be a big greedy capitalist about the whole thing….. businesses will suffer if something doesn’t happen here. Where are they supposed to get their workforce when no one can afford to live in Dublin anymore (apologies for being Dublin-centric)!

    1. Anne

      “(apologies for being Dublin-centric)!”

      No need to apologise… culchies are shunned around these parts.

  2. Harry Molloy

    well done Anne Marie, it’s refreshing to hear the opposition highlighting the positives of any government initiative and being optimistic. The easy choice is to criticise at all costs, whether warranted or not.
    Your post does suggest Soc Dems may be of a more constructive and objective nature.
    I genuinely think there is an massive appreciation from voters of this – and more mature discourse. The traditional approach of oppositions in this country would have you written off in most workplaces such is the hyper negativity.

    1. Anne

      he easy choice is to criticise at all costs, whether warranted or not.

      Just go read that again Harold and have a think about it..

      Why do I have to read this poo?

        1. Anne

          The easy choice is to criticise at all costs, whether warranted or not.

          If a criticism is warranted, you’re not criticizing at all costs, are you? Don’t answer that Harold.. Just go on away and have a think about it.

          1. Harry Molloy

            Someone woke up on the pedantic side of the bed this morning!
            If that’s all you could take from that comment I’ll just assume you’re in agreement dude

          2. Anne

            pedantic ? I’m only reading the words in front of me Harold. :)

            And the choice of criticism only seems easy, because there is much to criticise.. you and your pal Rotsey might remember that, ye establishment shills ye..

          3. Harry Molloy

            well I sincerely apologise for offending your beautiful blue eyes, I only access broadsheet on my phone these days so the quality of my narratives aren’t up to scratch more often than I would like. And in the real world I benefit and lot from any good editor before publishing anything.

          4. Anne

            Ah they’re grand.. I’m only giving constructive feedback.. as you do yourself on occasion.

            And I meant the choice of criticism only seems easy, towards the gov. Not you.

    2. Kieran NYC

      +1

      Telling that FF’s first reaction yesterday was to mutter about pulling support from the government.

  3. Jake38

    I’m sorry, I did not realise there would be a post today in BS recognizing that someone in the Government had a good idea. I’m going for a lie down.

  4. DubLoony

    Devil in the detail of all of this.
    There is nothing on building standards nor enforcement of standards which is alarming in light of Priory Hall & other poor build incidents.

    The bit I welcome the most is the mixed developments – social, affordable, private housing mixed developments. Dublin in particular is very class segregated. Older social housing were build out of city limits with no connection to amenities or rest of population. There will never again be big blocky social housing built.

    Where these will be built will be interesting. As soon as the phrase social housing is mentioned, pop up residents groups spring into action to object. Which is why any developments over 100 units will go direct to An Bord Plenala. Potential to by-pass city development plans.

  5. Anne

    I think proper rent controls are needed.. Good article from David McWilliams on it here-
    http://www.davidmcwilliams.ie/2015/11/02/why-we-need-rent-controls

    He sh*tes on a lot with analogies, but when he gets to the point, it’s usually good.

    ‘Nowhere are all these idiosyncrasies more evident than in what, to borrow a rugby expression, could be called “the breakdown”. The breakdown in rugby is that place when the ball goes loose and stuff happens on the ground, which even some of the best referees are helpless to police. (Many, many years ago while playing in the rarified position of winger in a school’s cup final at Lansdowne Road, I remember getting caught in the breakdown and realising pretty swiftly why I tended to offload quickly!)

    The breakdown in Irish economics is the housing market. Stuff happens at the breakdown that does not comply with any rules of traditional economics.

    The housing “breakdown” is a chaotic intersection of planning, credit, demographics, psychology, advertising, fear and loathing, the need for accommodation, hoarding, sub-letting, banks, auctioneers, and of course punters – renters and landlords both big and one-off. At the breakdown, first time buyers compete not just with each other, but also with “one-off” landlords who hope to turn the buyer into a permanent tenant.

    1. Anne

      McWilliams: ‘At the breakdown, first time buyers compete not just with each other, but also with “one-off” landlords who hope to turn the buyer into a permanent tenant. ‘

      They seem to be getting their way on that one.. how many TDs are landlords?

      Was watching Vin B last night.. where they were discussing all this. There was some woman on.. I only watched it towards the end.. Margaret something or other. And she was sh*te-in on that we’re losing landlords.. that they’re being punished too much with the tax they have to pay on rental income.

      I mean seriously… why should I give a tuppenny fupp about landlords? So what if we’re losing landlords.. let them go away off and invest in a pension that they have to contribute something towards, like everybody else.. not get young tenants to pay the full costs of their pension for them. I don’t give two fupps about landlords having to sell up.

  6. Anne

    Rugby is not played “on paper” but “on grass”; the Irish housing market doesn’t take place in charts and in textbooks but in real life, in real time, involving real people.

    Rugby is played on grass… you heard it here first..

  7. Anne

    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.

    I take your word for it Anne-Marie.. but could you show which ones of yers correspond to Coveneys? I’d be interested to see those.

      1. rotide

        while you’re waiting you could compile those reports I asked you to on the RTE thread.

        no rush love

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