Mortgage arrears may spark social housing crisis

Leading civil servant warns about housing problem

John Moran, secretary general of the Department of Finance, said: “There is an inevitability about the fact that some of the people that are in distressed mortgage situations are going to finish up closer to the social housing area.”

John Moran, secretary general of the Department of Finance, said: “There is an inevitability about the fact that some of the people that are in distressed mortgage situations are going to finish up closer to the social housing area.”

Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 01:00

More social housing will be needed for people who lose their homes as a result of mortgage difficulties, a senior civil servant has warned

John Moran, secretary general of the Department of Finance, said there is an “inevitability” that some people in mortgage arrears will need social housing.

Speaking at a property development conference in Dublin last night, he also said there needs to be a move away from traditional development of three-bedroom houses because of population shifts to urban areas. There would be a challenge to deal with the “growing trend of urbanisation”, he said. The prospect that Dublin could more than double in size would have consequences for city planning.

Three-bedroom house
“We need to kind of address fully this idea that everybody needs a three-bedroom house in Dublin, or whether that is the right way to be planning a large city.”

His comments on the property market came in the same week Taoiseach Enda Kenny said there was a pressing need to ease pent-up demand for housing in Dublin. Mr Moran told the conference at the Dublin offices of law firm Byrne Wallace that the issue of mortgage arrears is not being solved quickly enough by the banks, and more people will end up on housing lists when this happens.

“The whole area of social housing and the dynamic of social housing in Ireland is going through a significant change,” Mr Moran said.

“You only have to look at the size of the mortgage arrears numbers to know that there is a pent-up demand coming down the road as we work through the mortgage arrears situation, where I think a lot of stuff has not been handled fast enough by the banking system. But there is an inevitability about the fact that some of the people that are in distressed mortgage situations are going to finish up closer to the social housing area and add to the almost 100,000 people that are already in that space, whether in privately provided social housing or not.” A national mortgage-to-rent scheme is already in place, which allows people in mortgage difficulty to switch from owning their home to renting it as a social tenant.

People who take up this option no longer own their home.