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‘Snobbery and the housing crisis’

The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice in Dublin have been responding to the Irish housing crisis over the past several years. This includes a letter in the Irish Times on 16 October 2018 by deputy director Eoin Carroll who responds to journalist Fintan O’Toole’s analysis of the situation.

In the letter Mr Carroll states:

“The willingness of the Government to spend hundreds of millions on rent subsidies – paying landlords to provide for social need – is even more shocking than noted by Fintan O’Toole (“Snobbery is at the root of the housing crisis”, Opinion & Analysis, October 13th).

“Your columnist points out that €7.8 million was spent on rent supplement in 1990; however, his calculation of €535 million in 2018 is some way out. While the final spend might be less than expected, €729.5 million, equivalent to €2 million per day, was provided this year to the gamut of rent subsidy programmes. Last week’s budget announcements for 2019 have increased these further to €844.4 million, €2.3 million per day. By 2021 it is likely we will have tipped the billion euro mark.”

Mr Carroll adds:

“Today, people stuck renting – those with insufficient incomes to buy – know well that it would be cheaper to pay a mortgage than continue paying rent. The same can be said for the State.

“While several reports since 2006 have suggested that leasing, and the use of the housing assistance payment (HAP), were more or as cost effective, these claims can no longer be made.”

He states:

“The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s own report, Current and Capital Expenditure on Social Housing Delivery Mechanisms (July 2018), ultimately comes to this conclusion too. It points out that when ‘… prices within the general housing market are higher’ it is more cost effective to construct than deliver units through mechanisms such as HAP and leasing. In the major urban areas, this has been the reality for some time.”

Mr Carroll concludes:

“This continued provision of public housing through private landlords, with public money, is not only more expensive, it has not added a single unit to the public housing stock and needs to stop. Now it is time for a public housing building boom.”