‘An Impossible Place To Live’


‘Take Back The City’ protestors occupy the offices of Airbnb on Hanover Quay, Dublin last October

Via John Harris in The Guardian:

I stay in a flat just to the north of Dublin’s city centre, booked via Airbnb…

As if to prove that I am not the only person there paying for a short let, there is a gaggle of young men in the flat above me, who – despite the fact that it is Monday – repeatedly sing a dire and apparently drunken version of Robbie Williams’s Angels between midnight and 1am.

But the buggies and tricycles on each landing suggest that most of my temporary neighbours are families.

I pay £95 for a single night’s stay (including a £43 “cleaning fee”), which highlights why whoever owns it has decided to rent it out in this way.

The same move has been made by scores of other landlords: in August 2018, there were reckoned to be 3,165 entire properties listed on Airbnb in Dublin, compared with only 1,329 available for long-term rent.

This is one vivid element of a housing crisis that combines the most contorted aspects of the private market with a rising need that continues to go unanswered.

About 10,000 people in Ireland are reckoned to be homeless. The number of families who have nowhere to live has increased by more than 20% since 2017.

These are national problems, but they are inevitably concentrated in Ireland’s capital, home to more than 10% of the country’s population.

In the four months between June and September, 415 Dublin families – including 893 children – became newly homeless, adding to a total across the city of about 1,400. Increasing numbers are being forced to live in hotels.

Meanwhile, residential neighbourhoods echo to the clack-clack-clack of suitcase wheels. The city is smattered with key boxes for Airbnb apartments.

A stock line among activists demanding action from the government gets to the heart of all this: in 21st-century Dublin, they say, homeless families stay in hotels, and tourists stay in houses.

Last week, a survey titled the Expat City Ranking found that among people who live and work abroad, Dublin came out as the world’s worst capital for affordable accommodation.

Since the summer, there have been repeated protests in the city, focused most spectacularly on occupations of vacant buildings.

Tomorrow [Saturday] a protest organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition is expected to attract thousands of people to the middle of Dublin, set on making the case for housing as a basic human right and venting their anger and fear about a simple enough fact: that Ireland’s capital is fast becoming an impossible place to live and thousands of lives are being ruined as a result.

30,000 empty homes and nowhere to live: inside Dublin’s housing crisis (John Harris, Guardian)

Yesterday: Rory Hearne: Why Your Country Needs You To Join The Housing Protest

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49 thoughts on “‘An Impossible Place To Live’

      1. Dr.Fart MD

        you can bet your bottom euro that the regulations will be ride with loopholes. just like the 4% rent increase cap disaster. They’ve yet to put together a cohesive, well constructed piece of legislation since in power. Even repealing the 8th amendment, which FG constantly take claim for and hang their hat off, is running into legislative problems aplenty. They aren’t used to doing actual work, or capable. Only concerned about optics. This will be the same, I really really hope it won’t be, because I want my city back, but I have no faith in this gov. doing a good job.. on anything. Mostly because they haven’t so far, in 7 years of power. Can’t see them breaking (non)form now.

      1. rotide

        Must be going around, I literally had no idea what day it was untill i saw the market on the canal and was dumbfounded it was thursday

    1. Rob_G

      It would almost be better if just metred everybody for the amount of water that they used, and billed them accordingly; how on earth would we do that, I wonder…

          1. Mickey Twopints

            Well, if you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot you may as well use both barrels, eh?

            It’s clear to me that you are beyond help.

    1. pedeyw

      Building more houses is what’s needed but there’s no single fix, no. Making AirBNB less attractive will help a little bit.

  1. Rob_G

    I wish articles like this would focus more on people like Aaron, who to me represents the true victims of the housing crisis, rather than trotting out Margaret Cash and Erica Fleming; both of whom represent the worst of Ireland’s entitlement culture.

    1. Nigel

      I wish people would stop measuring the harm done to and difficulties experiencef by a broad range of people from all levels if society against their supposed moral worth in search of true or perfect victims.

      1. Rob_G

        Ah victims my hoop – someone who works hard and is being squeezed out of the city by spiralling rents is not the same as someone whose every action indicates that they never had any intention of supporting themselves.

        They go out of the way to invite the comparison by putting themselves front and centre of every protest; I wonder how someone like Aaron feels about being put in the same box as chancers like Fleming & Cash.

        1. Nigel

          See? Desperate need to come up with unqualified judgements about the people affected rather than accept the fact that the degree of perceived righteousness of the people affected is utterly irrelevant to the problem itself. The Deserving Poor is such a Victorian concept.

          1. Rob_G

            “… the problem itself”

            People who have no intention of paying for themselves being ‘homeless’ is not a function of high rents.

            “The Deserving Poor is such a Victorian concept”

            Evolution and radioactivity are also Victorian concepts; just because an idea is old does not mean it is invalid.

          2. Nigel

            Their intentions are irrelevant to the larger problem.

            It’s perfectly valid, I suppose, it’s one of the reasons they let millions die during the Famine since obviously the Irish had no intention of helping themselves

          3. Nigel

            That’s the logic that led us to abandon the Victorian approach for a social safety net ruled by objective metrics rather than subjective moral judgements.

          4. Rob_G

            And I can understand the logic behind the move, and it was largely for the better, but then we end up with a very small minority of people ripping the absolute pee.

            This objectivity is not absolute, nor should it be; there is plenty of subjectivity in the allocation of social welfare. If you say you have been trying your hardest to get a job, and the social welfare officer thinks you are not, your dole could be cut. The subjective opinion of qualified, competent public servants should be used to curb some of the abuses of the social welfare system that we see in this country currently.

          5. Rob_G

            Well, I’m against it, of course. I am the one arguing that there should (some) subjective judgments, rather than (solely) objective metrics, applied to the provision of social welfare; I suggest that you direct your question to Nigel.

          6. Mickey Twopints

            You are no doubt aware that the prisoner in question was arguing for the right to access his *contributory* pension, not a hand-out?

          7. Rob_G

            (actually I was not familiar with the case)

            But I don’t think that any prisoner should be entitled any payment from the state; all their material needs are provided for, after all.

          8. Mickey Twopints

            Have you composed a definitive list of the citizens who are to be denied their constitutional rights according to your whim?

        2. Rob_G

          Part and parcel of being sent to prison is having your right to liberty denied (or at least, suspended); I don’t see any problem with applying that to other rights, constitutional or otherwise.

      2. Rob_G

        I’ve composed a list of all the people I believe should be allowed continue to draw their pension while serving a sentence for rape, and it’s a very short list…

  2. Fact Checker

    “There are over 300 people working for the Guardian but only six vacancies currently advertised at the Financial Times.”

    Can everyone see what I did there?

    PS: John Harris is usually excellent. I highly recommend his book ‘The Last Party’.

    1. Bertie Blenkinsop

      One of my favourite books –
      I was so in love with Donna Matthews back then
      (pity Elastica were rubbish)

      1. Fact Checker

        There are flashes of brilliance: ‘Car Song’ for example, but the big problem was that Elastica could barely play their instruments.

        Harris was far too harsh on Pulp who, despite the fact that no one listens to them anymore, were really the best thing about Britpop.

        1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

          I listened to Tracey Thorn on Desert Island Discs yesterday. What an interesting lady! I’m listening to Marine Girls today: I’d never heard of them before.

        2. Bertie Blenkinsop

          I think the main problem with Elastica was that their main flashes of brilliance were ripped off from other bands.

  3. ollie

    There are over 100,000 people in Hospital who don’t even have a bed assigned to them, now that’s a real crisis.

    Arounf 9,000 homeless out of apopulation of 4.7 million?, bad it is, crisis it ain’t.

        1. pedeyw

          Lads, it’;s grand. Please tell homeless children that their plight is not a real crisis, Ollie says so.

        2. pedeyw

          You’re also not looking at the general trend. They’ve essentially trebled since 2014, from 3258 in July 14 to 9891 in July 18, according to focus Ireland. So I ask you Ollie, what is your threshold for a crisis? 10k, 20k, 100k?

    1. Col

      Homelessness is one part of a greater problem.
      The problem is lack of supply. That’s why people are living at home in their thirties, why people have ridiculously long commutes, why rents are unsustainably high, why house prices are too high compared to wages. It’s effecting competitiveness, inflation, job investment and more.

    2. Cian

      100,000 people in hospital? Where did you get that?

      That would suggest 2% of the population is currently in hospital?

      There are only ~13,000 bed in all the (public) hospitals. So then there are 7 people in each bed?

  4. Dr.Fart MD

    to people saying it won’t fix anything. you’re obviously an air bnb landlord, or similar. OR.. you just don’t know enough to piece together a reasonable opinion. but you’re here anyway. Of course regulating ari bnb lets will help. there’s whole apartment blocks just full of short term tourists. They could have people in them, people who work and (want to) work in the city. Entire houses are for let on air bnb all year round. So obviously, if it wasn’t worth it to let it out full time, then people could live there instead. how does that now fix anything?

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