Housing and social exclusion

 

Sir, – Mick Fagan (September 20th) says that it will take a further two to three years before we see the beginning of the end of the housing crisis as supply gradually meets demand. But this assumes that most people could afford the houses once they’re built, which is clearly not the case. The Taoiseach uses the same language noting that protests “won’t build any houses”. However, as the protests highlighted, there are thousands of empty buildings in Ireland so it’s not a lack of houses. The problem is they’re owned by too few people and investors, together with an acute lack of affordability. – Yours, etc,

JACK WALSH,

Dublin 1 .

A chara, – Mick Fagan (September 20th) argues against what he calls “massive council estates” as the way to address the housing crisis. Citing family background in the Dublin suburb of Crumlin, he says of that estate and others that “housing poor people together in massive congregations gave rise to social problems”.

I too have a family background in Crumlin where I spent much of my childhood in my grandparents’ home. Like the vast majority on their road, they were working people, sustained by the income of my grandfather who was in employment all his life. For some of the time, the household also benefitted from the income of three of the children, before they moved out. This was fairly typical of the area. Economic downturns in the 1970s and 1980s brought unemployment and attendant social problems. By the late 1980s my grandparents’ generation were pensioners. The social exclusion they suffered was not because of where they were housed – the homes were small but of good standard – but because they got so little reward from employers and government for working all their lives. Similarly, while young unemployed people did suffer some discrimination because of their address, the main barrier to their further education, training and employment was financial, not geographic.

Large estates were built in the 1980s with very few facilities and at a time of high unemployment, leading to concentrations of deprivation. But that is not a valid argument against the development of council housing on a large scale. In fact a large increase in the supply of council housing would allow for the raising of the income threshold to qualify for such housing, thus ensuring a greater social mix. And of course these developments should come with proper facilities, thereby building communities, not just estates. – Is mise,

MÍCHEÁL

MAC DONNCHA,

Cill Bharróg.

Baile Átha Cliath 5.