A necessary step to address Dublin’s acute housing shortage

The provision of properties for rental only is a welcome approach

 

Anything that would help to alleviate the severe housing shortage in Dublin must be welcomed, including “expressions of interest” from housing associations and private developers in building almost 1,500 social and affordable homes on several suburban landbank sites owned by Dublin City Council. The aim is to use these sites in Darndale, Santry and Cherry Orchard to provide a mix of rental housing to cater for people on the council’s waiting list and also for private tenants; none of the new homes would be for sale, in other words. This is is a welcome recognition of the urgent need to provide new rental housing as well as leaving the market to get on with building new homes for sale.

That we have a housing crisis is undeniable. Developers were unwilling to build new homes in the wake of the property crash because they would not have made a return, while cash-strapped local authorities were unable to do so due to a perennial shortage of funds. Now that house prices have increased quite substantially, developers can see that the act of building is no longer such folly. There is also a political imperative to produce more housing – or, at least, pledge to produce it – given that a general election is now less than nine months away. That’s certainly a factor playing in the mind of Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly and his colleagues in Government, though they are well aware that new homes cannot be produced quickly.

There is a wariness among Dublin city councillors about doing deals with developers given what happened to public-private partnership (PPP) schemes in the past. As noted by our Dublin Correspond Olivia Kelly, “the last time the council got into bed with private developers, the relationship was a disaster. Memories are still raw.” The collapse of these PPP schemes in 2008 resulted in the dismemberment of communities and left the city “scarred by derelict blocks of empty flats vacated for regeneration projects that never happened”. This time, it’s meant to be different. And with experienced housing associations directly involved as well as developers, it should be.

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