Home. Why Public Housing Is the Answer – a fluent, serious book by Eoin Ó Broin

Book review: The Sinn Féin TD addresses the difficulties, but does not claim any simple solutions

Dublin City Council flats complex, Ringsend in Dublin: Eoin Ó Broin’s  centrepiece is a much-enlarged programme of public housing, representing a scale and diversity of State activity in housing that  could  be thought of as a return to what was the norm in Ireland from the 1930s to the 1980s. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Dublin City Council flats complex, Ringsend in Dublin: Eoin Ó Broin’s centrepiece is a much-enlarged programme of public housing, representing a scale and diversity of State activity in housing that could be thought of as a return to what was the norm in Ireland from the 1930s to the 1980s. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Modern economic progress puts pressure on urban housing: people pour into cities and as their incomes rise they spread out, buying bigger and better dwellings even as average household size falls. The result is urban sprawl. More city-dwellers using more space per person cause urban land-cover to grow faster than the urban population. This is a ubiquitous 20th-century process that no major city in the world has managed to avoid.

One recent study of a global sample of cities found that their population density in 2000 was a quarter of what it was a century earlier. The transport revolution for long made this process painless: trains, buses and cars made it easy and attractive for city-dwellers to spread into the suburbs.

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