The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice today June 23rd said that there is a danger that the Taoiseach’s ‘land swap’ proposal could lead to further ghettoes. Eugene Quinn, Director of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice said: ‘If social housing units cannot be located in City Centre locations, such as the former Department of Agriculture building in Harcourt Terrace, then where will they be located? The land swap proposals should undoubtedly lead to a larger number of social and affordable housing units. But, at what cost if these lower cost locations fail to provide the necessary amenities and services for the communities and families who will live in them?’
The Centre argues that ad-hoc initiatives do not constitute a housing policy and need to be part of a broader policy framework. It urges the government to implement the numerous existing housing strategies, and the policy commitments it has made over the last five years, but has so far failed to implement fully.
Writing in Working Notes (Housing the New Ireland),the journal of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice
Margaret Burns says that “in recent years the Irish housing system has been producing about four times as many houses for use as second homes as it has for social housing.” She draws attention to the NESC (National Economic and Social Council) recommendation that there should be a yearly net increase of 9000 units of social housing each year until 2012 . She points out that this would be an annual rate of increase over 50% higher than the output achieved in recent years and even this might not be enough given that the present system of assessment may exclude many people with housing needs.
Writing in the same issue of Working Notes former UCD Professor of Planning and Environmental Policy Michael Bannon says” Too many new housing developments are places where people have only time to sleep and from which they commute increasing distances with difficulty”
In a sustained critique of government planning policy, Professor Bannon says that the much-heralded promise of a new era in Irish planning has been strangled by a market driven approach. “The housing boom of recent years has created a massive increase in the number of houses, but at the expense of affordability, social mix and adequate supply of housing for the less well off. Many of the new developments while attractive make little or no provision for active recreation, some even have notices saying: Well-Behaved Children Welcome..!”
Professor Bannon also points out that even the Government’s decentralisation plan flies in the face of its own National Spatial Strategy by choosing fifty-three towns around the country for ten thousand public sector workers with hardly any of these locations being the Gateway towns recommended in the National Spatial Strategy. Another contributor to the June issue of Working Notes, ‘Housing the New Ireland’, is Peter Mc Verry SJ, who says a single homeless person has more chance of winning the lotto than getting a local authority home!