Housing crisis, economy and direct action

 

Sir, – Jim O’Sullivan (June 8th) highlights the fact that the Government is more concerned about protecting the economy than creating a housing market that’s actually fit for purpose. This stands to reason, however, given that the rich and established baby boomers who benefit from overpriced housing represent a sizeable portion of the voter base and Government, and that governments in general benefit from the taxes generated by a system that keeps people on the treadmill for several decades in order to simply put a roof over their head.

I would suggest that unless the Government implements major planning reform to benefit prospective first-time homeowners, the latter instead take direct action and strive to crash the housing market by simply refusing to participate in the conventional sense.

So, instead of propping up an overpriced market by renting or taking out huge mortgages, perhaps buy a much cheaper plot of agricultural land and “park” an off-grid caravan on it, or maybe even go for a small “live aboard” boat, provided one has the skill sets.

Once people start leaving the housing market in droves, many of the greedy investor landlords will suddenly be stranded with debts and be forced to sell while the remaining ones will have to become more competitive. – Yours, etc,

ANDREAS GREINER,

Gorey,

Co Wexford.

Sir, – Once again some are pushing the simplistic solution to the housing problem of building massive council estates.

Between 40 and 50 per cent of those on the housing list are already socially housed by way of rent supplement and the rental accommodation scheme.

Many of these clients are happy with this form of state housing support and where they currently live and the last thing they want is a house in a council estate. They must stay on the waiting list because it is a condition required for receipt of rent supplement. Consider also that it can take up to six offers by a housing department to let a vacant council house so there is an element of “want” over “need” among some applicants.

This was well illustrated recently when it transpired that even some high-profile homeless applicants had refused offers of social housing because they had been procured under the housing assistance payment scheme or were not in their desired location.

Let any analysis be based on the true facts about the numbers in need.

For decades the State responded to previous housing crises by building massive council housing estates, which in time manifested all of the problems that flow from such ghettoisation and social segregation.

Repeating the mistaken solutions from the past is hardly a desirable solution.

The only sustainable approach to the current housing crisis is to build socially integrated, mixed-tenure estates with the social element invisible and procured through purchase, long-term social leasing, housing assistance payment, and Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, which allows local authorities to obtain up to 10 per cent of land zoned for housing development at “existing use value” rather than “development value” for the delivery of social and affordable housing, augmented by building small, purpose-built council estates and infill schemes in well-settled areas.

We are living in a perfect storm in terms of housing provision. It will take three to five years to ramp up the required annual supply. Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past by again building massive council estates.

Otherwise, in 20 years, we will ask what type of idiocy caused such ghettoisation, social exclusion and all the predictable social problems that will flow from this outdated approach. – Yours, etc,

MICK FAGAN,

Tallaght,

Dublin 24.