Minister’s apparent U-turn on co-living – disappointing and dispiriting

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
25 October 2020
  • Minister has fudged the issue since he took office
  • Already an oversupply of shared accommodation

Speaking after it was revealed in the Sunday Times that a report by Department of Housing officials has made a strong case to Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien not to outlaw “the shared accommodation model, Labour Housing Spokesperson, Senator Rebecca Moynihan has described as disappointing and dispiriting the apparent U-turn from the Minister.

Senator Moynihan said:

“When he was an opposition spokesperson, Minister O’Brien was adamant that co-living would not form a part of the solution to the housing crisis. However, since he took up office in the Custom House, Minister O’Brien has transfigured from Mighty Mouse to Church Mouse in the space of four months.

“I have repeatedly called on the Minister to suspend the co-living guidelines and as recent as July of this year, he told RTÉ Radio that he believed that co-living did not work as a solution to the housing crisis.

“It is incredibly disappointing and dispiriting to read in the Sunday Times that the Minister is laying the groundwork for a screeching U-turn on his previous public pronouncements by way of tinkering with the guidelines on the size of bedroom units. Increasing the size of bedrooms is a fudge and will not stop developers from making co-living applications.

“Co-living is not a long-term solution to the housing crisis. Packing people into small apartments like sardines is not acceptable. We constantly hear from developers that young people want to live in 16 to a person kitchen developments but this is simply untrue. Young people, want affordable accommodation. Co-living is not that.

“We have had several applications for shared accommodation within my own constituency of Dublin South Central and Dublin Central instead of applications for sustainable apartments because it is more lucrative for greedy developers to build co-living units. We have also had applications to convert student accommodation to tourist accommodation which indicates that there is already an oversupply of shared unit accommodation”.

“Minister O’Brien has had months to do something about co-living. In fact, under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 he can revoke the guidelines with the stroke of a pen without having to go to the Oireachtas. Instead he continually fudges the issue by hiding behind this review. “Co-living is not a solution to the housing crisis in normal times and are even more unsuitable in the context of the Covid crisis. It is very disappointing to read in the Sunday Times that Minister O’Brien is laying the groundwork to backtrack completely on his previous public pronouncements.

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