Government unwilling to admit scale of housing crisis, developer says

Cantillon: Richard Barrett says more than 700,000 people in State need housing

Developer and former Treasury Holdings principal Richard Barrett argues that the Government's estimates of the scale of the Republic's housing crisis disguise the real picture because it is a problem that the administration cannot solve on its own.

Barrett calculates that 175,000 families need homes, more than 700,000 people. He includes the formal 91,600 housing list and adds other groups on various types of accommodation supports, and those sheltering from domestic violence, who will ultimately need a permanent home of their own, to come up with the figure.

He added that the Government referred to them in housing “ units” because it simply did not want to acknowledge the scale of a problem that affected almost three quarters of a million people. “They are families, not units,” he said.

Barrett’s case is that the Government cannot tackle the crisis. It has signed the stability and growth pact which allows it to borrow only 3 per cent of gross domestic product.


“There are competing demands calling on that, you have education, you have health,” he said. “The Government is completely unable to provide for social housing, even if it wanted to.”

The developer has set up a business, Bartra Capital Property, that plans to build social housing and let it to councils on long leases. He points out that institutional investors already do this across the developed world, providing the Government with a ready-made solution to its biggest – and possibly most underestimated – problem.