Buying a home is an uphill battle for single people in Ireland says Labour Senator demanding housing strategy change

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
24 April 2022

THE nationwide housing crisis has left so many young people, families and single people fearing for how they will keep a roof over their heads.

Despite the pandemic, Central Statistics Office figures show house prices rose by 14.8 per cent last year.

Outside Dublin city, where often the problem feels more pronounced, prices have risen by 16 per cent.

People are being priced out of secure housing.

We in the Labour Party firmly believe the state should be a core provider of housing — because the market will never meet the needs of everyone.

This is necessary to ensure providing homes, rather than profits, is the number-one priority. Right now, it’s clear the Government has no vision for the type of cities, towns and villages we should be creating.

We need  an holistic approach to planning, to incorporate into urban renewal building homes in places with diverse communities, with access to public transport, employment, the arts and community amenities.

We need to look at the type of homes we are building.

Communities need a mix of homes for young families, for those whose families have grown up and moved out and for single people.

The cost of buying an apartment has soared, rising by 11.8 per cent just last year.

This is having the effect of locking out single people from the market, with no realistic hope of ever owning their own home. These people are being locked into Generation Rent.

More than 400,000 people here live alone. Yet every time the Government talks about housing, it is based on joint incomes.

Our housing policy must be responsive to the needs of all people who live here.

Last year the Government announced it would regulate investors looking to buy whole estates of family homes in the suburbs.

We need to see the same rules applied to investors buying up apartments en masse in cities. The boom in build-to-rent developments also ignores the need of single people who want to buy in inner-city neighbourhoods.

These developments are having the effect of eroding communities and pushing single people away from their family, friends and neighbours.

I have long highlighted the uphill battle faced by single people, young workers and those looking to get on the property ladder in Dublin.

Unfortunately, for many this is a pipedream.

No housing system, or economy, should trap people into seeing marriage or relationships as economic leverage to buy a home. This is having a particularly devastating impact on women.

If a woman experiencing domestic violence lives with her abuser, escaping that abusive relationship can mean facing homelessness.

Between March and August 2020, 441 women were admitted to a domestic abuse refuge, safe home or supported housing.

But there were another 1,351 unmet requests due to a lack of space.

Many women feel pressure to remain in an abusive home to avoid homelessness.

We also know women typically earn less and so may experience extra difficulty navigating our unaffordable housing market.

These structural flaws in our economy and our housing system must be addressed.

Now more than ever, many grown-up children still live with their parents as they cannot afford a house on their own — or the extortionate rents asked of them.

Renters should be allowed to dream of owning their own home. But because many renters pay 500 euros a month more than they would for a mortgage, they are trapped — and so cannot benefit from the potential savings.

The Labour Party want to see a scheme introduced whereby rental payments and deposit savings are counted as part of credit ratings to help first-time buyers get on the market.

Single people are not transient and are not all young. We need a rethink of the manner in which housing is provided in this country.

It is time for the Government to think outside the box and ensure there are proper housing options available for all, whether renting or buying.

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