Ireland: Dealing With Crisis

In previous articles, I’ve discussed the ever increasing population of unemployed and homeless people in Ireland, as well as the rising housing prices. At times the two may go hand-in-hand. Higher cost of living could lead to homelessness, and so on. Within the last 12 years, the homeless population has tripled and the cost of living in Ireland has risen to 102% higher than the EU average. These two issues have rooted themselves all throughout Ireland, with no signs of being deweeded. While looking at the issues from an outside perspective may leave you believing nothing is happening to solve these circumstances, the government does have some plans in place to combat said issues. 

The Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) is one of the largest contributors to the development of various social housing services. One of their main goals is to “deliver housing and combat homelessness”. The ICSH has already proposed their plan and budget for next year. With funding from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the ICSH has “an overall package of €2.6 billion to support the social housing needs of over 27,500 households in 2020.” This total budget is split up and put into different programs. €126 million will be put towards the support and delivery of homes to purchase or rent at discounted prices. About €60 million will be put into the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF), which will provide support for almost 20,000 new homes. Additionally, “An allocation of €72 million is provided for the National Regeneration Programme which will benefit some of the most economically disadvantaged communities…”. Also, €166 million will be put towards the continuing demand for homeless services. This will include improved emergency accommodations as well as more homeless families being able to move into homes. 

The ICSH has had plans and budgets in place for years, the new 2020 budget however will significantly help get people and families into better living situations. It will also aid in reducing housing costs due to a slightly lower demand by the lower income population. 

With the homeless population being somewhat covered by new budgets, something has to be done to combat the overall increase in the cost of buying and renting homes. A huge factor in this is making housing more available. If the amount of available houses go up, conversely, housing prices should go down. The new budget puts aside a good portion to develop new units and construction of new properties. Also, in 2017 a rent control initiative was put in place, yet has barely made an impact. Most of the properties for let are privately owned and are non subject to rent control. In addition, properties with rent control already established are impossible to sell. Landlords and investors won’t buy a property if the rent is capped at a third of the market rate. The Irish Times states that, “According to a spokesman for the RTB (Residential Tenancies Board), the RTB does not have investigatory powers to monitor if landlords are observing the rules in rent pressure zones.” This indicates that landlords may be fudging their numbers in order to seem more appealing to potential buyers. There has been a push to put in Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) that would cap the amount of rent increase. This is a great start to combat the ever increasing prices. There is also a yearly 4% rent cap put in place that landlords cannot exceed. ““Larger reductions in rental inflation within RPZs were seen in counties Louth and Galway, than was evident in Cork and Dublin. RTB’s director, Rosalind Carroll, said the research is a sign that rent regulation is “starting to work”.” says Irish Times journalist Eilen O’Riordan. 

Both of these issues are of major concern in Ireland, and some initiatives are in place to combat them. Higher budgets and stricter laws are in place, yet it doesn’t seem like enough. New legislation and restrictions are constantly being put in place, but the battle still rages between landlords and homeowners, and tenants and buyers.

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