Inner city poverty 'masked by influx of rich residents'

 

AN INFLUX of affluent residents into new apartment complexes in Dublin’s inner city over the past 15 years has masked the depth of acute poverty in parts of Dublin, according to new research.

A report commissioned by the Dublin Inner City Partnership to be published this week shows that large pockets of the inner city have remained locked in poverty since 1991, with unemployment levels of up to 60 per cent in some areas.

While the city as a whole benefited from the boom, the report says the benefits were not shared equally, leaving a divided city of deprived social housing and affluent private apartments.

Divided City: the Changing face of Dublin’s Inner City, conducted by Trutz Hasse, a social and economic consultant, uses detailed socio-economic data over the past four censuses. As well as using data at the level of electoral divisions – the lowest level at which census data is published in a consistent manner – it drills deeper, using data from street and neighbourhood levels.

It shows dramatic changes over the past 15 years, with the overall population of the inner city increasing by almost 50 per cent after declining by half over the previous 30 years. An influx of about 30,000 people – many in newly-built private apartments – helped push overall education and affluence levels upwards.

For example, the proportion of residents with third level education rose from 11 per cent to 43 per cent between 1991 and 2006, while the overall proportion of local authority rented accommodation fell from 33 per cent to 20 per cent.

Despite these overall improvements, the scale of deprivation across the inner city is still very significant.

About one third of people live in areas described as “very disadvantaged” or “extremely disadvantaged”. The lone parent rate increased, with the numbers for the inner city increasing from 32 per cent to 50 per cent, making it the dominant family form.

The scale of deprivation is even more acute within pockets of deprivation, such as local authority flat complexes at St Teresa’s Gardens, O’Devanney Gardens, Dominic Street, and Charlemont Street.

Here, for example, the unemployment rate is 60 per cent, while the lone parent rate is 70 per cent.

The report says that rather than benefiting all communities in equal proportions, the urban renewal of Dublin’s inner city has resulted in the creation of a “finely-knit patchwork of highly affluent and disadvantaged neighbourhoods” side by side.

Overall census figures for the inner city tend to mask the scale of persistent deprivation in the area, it says.

David Connolly, director of the Dublin Inner City Partnership, said the research countered the growing impression that the issue of acute poverty in inner city communities had been resolved.

Partnership chairwoman Prof Joyce O’Connor said the report supports the case for more targeted and tailor-made responses and programmes.