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Rising rents and lack of social housing has driven up homelessness in Ireland, EU warns

The European Commission report was highly critical of Ireland’s housing policy.

Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

RAPIDLY RISING RENTS, insufficient construction activity and a lack of affordable and social housing has driven up homelessness in Ireland, a new European Commission report has said. 

In its latest assessment of Member States’ progress on economic and social priorities, the report is highly critical of Ireland’s housing policies. 

The shortage of housing has led to a 23.4% rent increase since 2015, the highest in the EU, according to the report. 

It noted that demand for social housing stands at around 72,000 homes but just 10,000 are planned for delivery in 2019.

While a further 17,000 people are to be assisted through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) or the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS), this risks exacerbating rent increases in the already supply-constrained private rental market, the report warned. 

It said: 

Rapidly rising rents, insufficient residential construction activity and a lack of affordable and social housing have driven up homelessness, especially in Dublin. 

The report was critical of the large number of social homes which are under-occupied, particularly in the Dublin area. It noted that this is, in part, due to current succession practices, which further aggravate the situation. 

House prices

The recent sharp pickup in construction has appeared to helped in easing pressure on house prices, notably in Dublin, the report noted. 

“However, despite the expansion in housing supply, a gap between demand and supply persists and continues to be the main driver of house price increases,” it said.

The report also noted that the Irish government has implemented a broad range of measures to tackle the under-supply of housing, but that the results will “take time”. 

It said that while housing supply is “rapidly recovering” from very low levels, it is still falling short of demand. 

“As a result, house price inflation remains high, even if it has recently moderated,” the report said. 

The report comes as latest homeless figures for January, released yesterday, show that there are now a combined total of 9,987 people homeless and living in emergency accommodation in Ireland, a significant rise of 234 people from December.

Commenting on the figures, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said in a statement that the rise was “very disappointing”.

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