Census figures show housing time bomb

Ivana Bacik TD
27 July 2023

Today’s publication of the Census of Population 2022 Profile on Housing in Ireland underscores the Government’s unpreparedness to deal with the compounding crisis for people looking for a safe, secure and affordable home, according to Labour Leader and Housing Spokesperson Ivana Bacik TD.

Deputy Bacik said:

“Every person has a right to a home. However, that right is not being properly vindicated in Ireland today.

“There was a time when a single income family could reasonably expect to be able to purchase a home, and pay off a mortgage before retirement. That is simply not a reality anymore.

“Our social security system and our system of care for older people is predicated on the assumption that older people will own their own home. Already, so many people – young and old – are suffering due to the broken private rented sector and the lack of housing supply.

“The direction of travel which is indicated by these new Census figures would indicate that the Government is in possession of a ticking time bomb.

“The number of older people renting is up 83% since the last Census in 2016. That is a staggering increase. What’s more, average rents have risen by more the 37% in that same period.

“More and more people are renting in Ireland but fewer and fewer renters can afford to do so. Labour representatives are now hearing more regularly from people in their sixties and seventies who are in serious housing distress. Many of them are facing eviction – an awful reality for someone to face at any age but, particularly, as an older person.

“Despite the harrowing reality for renters, the Government will not even agree to introduce modest protections, such as restricting no-fault evictions. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are running scared from policies which even the Conservative Party in Britain now accepts as necessary.

“The Government has abandoned generations of people to the private rental casino. Of course, this is a game they can only lose.

“Lifting the temporary no-fault eviction ban and kite-flying more Budget measures for landlords, without corresponding measures for renters, show a cynicism from the Government and an attempt to rally support in the run-up to next year’s elections. They have got it wrong.

“Census figures show the pervasiveness of what President Higgins has rightly named ‘the housing disaster’. In addition to hearing from those in housing distress, I regularly hear from home-owning adults, expressing their concern that their children and grandchildren do not have the pathway to secure housing that previous generations were able to take as a given.

“For seven years, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have held the balance of power together. Clearly, they have run out of ideas, with those locked out of housing suffering the worst consequences of that failure. We need a structural revolution in housing. Government representatives have displayed an alarming fatalism in response to Labour’s constructive proposals to increase housing supply. Time for a change of approach.”

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