Social and affordable housing schemes


Sir, – Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has confirmed that his refusal to initiate the building of social housing on the scale needed is grounded on his concern that such developments contribute to the creation of dysfunctional communities.

This assertion is the same one used to give credence to the new 21st-century thinking on housing referred to as gentrification – creating housing estates with a mix of incomes.

We were assured that this would eradicate social exclusion and other ills suffered by people living on low incomes and it informed the housing policy changes that led us to where we are, having been proffered by the Fianna Fáil/PD governments under Bertie Ahern.

However, some observers were sceptical and saw another driver behind this “new” thinking – a ploy to open up social housing to profit-making. The so-called advantages were merely the work of very creative spin-doctors and vested interest lobbyists.

Evidence is now emerging showing that the sceptics were correct.

Recent studies show that rather than fixing the “problems” Mr Murphy identifies with large social and affordable housing schemes, his preferred gentrified schemes actually make things worse.

Those on low incomes in gentrified estates are more likely to withdraw socially, isolating themselves and avoiding engagement or interaction with neighbours.

The problem is not caused by concentration of deprivation, but where such problems arise, it is deprivation itself that is the culprit.

What we need now is for the Minister and his advisers to come forward and explain exactly what their thinking is based on and to address the emerging evidence that what they are proposing will do more harm than good in the long term while prolonging the misery of homelessness for many in the short term. – Yours, etc,