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Tuesday, 23rd February 2021

The scandal of the housing crisis must be addressed

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Part of the O'Cualann Housing Co-operative development in Poppintree, Ballymun where homes were completed in 2017 for as little as €140,000 for a two-bed home.

After climate change, the biggest single issue impacting the lives of people in Drogheda and Ireland generally, even bigger than the pandemic, is the housing crisis.

Yesterday we published an article in which Councillor Joanne Byrne called out the government for failing the people of Louth with housing policies that have resulted in a wait of up to 13 years for people on the list for Local Authority housing.

Nobody can deny that there is a problem with housing in this country and that it has been allowed to grow over the years until we have a situation where there are three and sometimes four generations living in one house.

It is scandalous that whole generations of working people have been left in the lurch on this most basic of issues, a place to live, because for years our “leaders” have either been inept, ignorant or just couldn’t give a damn.

The expensive “ingredients” that go into the building of a house are the land it is built on, the bricks and mortar it is built with, government taxes and the profits made by developers, builders and financial institutions.

The upshot of this is that house prices are pushed ever upwards until you arrive at a cloud cuckoo land situation whereby young couples can’t afford even the humblest of homes.

Prices in the capital have long since risen way beyond the reach of the average worker’s salary which so many people have moved to outlying areas such as Drogheda to avail of lower prices.

The lack of industrial or commercial investment in Drogheda means there are few jobs locally so these workers are forced into a crazy existence of a working life that is book ended by a long daily commute.

Let’s get back to our housing ingredients for a minute. The State owns huge parcels of land around the country that it is lying unused. Why are they not using more of it for building houses?

In Drogheda there is enough land for thousands of houses to the north of the town just waiting on a decision on the Northern Port Access Route. It remains to be seen how many affordable houses will be built if and when the go ahead is given.

You can’t build a house without bricks and mortar but the final ingredient, the profits of developers, builders and financial institutions is an area where huge savings can be made.

If private builders won’t build housing for a reasonable price, one that people can afford without putting themselves in hock for the rest of their lives, then the Government should step in.

Perhaps it’s time to put the quality of people’s lives ahead of profits for the few. Maybe the co-operative movement is the way to go – it certainly worked wonders for the “small farmers” of Ireland, it could be a life changer for community housing also.

The Ó Cualann housing co-op is an excellent organisation that develops well-designed, top-quality, energy efficient homes at an affordable price. Surely their model can be replicated throughout the country. Check out their website at ocualann.ie

 

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