Housing sector

Ban on evictions shows the mess our housing sector is in

The good news in terms of the housing strategy and the “someone somewhere must definitely do something about this” approach is that the coalition has come out of its slumber.

The bad news is that too many of the measures currently being urgently put in place are not aimed at providing more homes, but rather at alleviating the pain of not having enough.

In announcing the ban on evictions, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it was about striking the right balance and keeping a roof over the heads of people at risk of homelessness.

When you talk about generalities, that sounds reasonable, but the elephant in the room, of course, is that if the coalition had struck the “balance” such a ban wouldn’t be necessary because there wouldn’t be chronic shortage of affordable housing. .

To be fair to Mr Martin, the blame for the current crisis dates back many years, and with the number of homeless heading worryingly towards 11,000, there is more than enough blame for everyone .

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael know they could and should have acted sooner when it comes to providing accommodation. Sinn Féin might claim the highest moral ground, but its title is also suspect. Having preferred to sit on the sidelines instead of taking office for so long, Sinn Féin avoided any input into the decision-making.

As such, his criticisms, while often constructive, lack the authority they otherwise would.

The “no-fault” moratorium on evictions will last until the end of March. All parties hailed this move as winter sets in, but the need for such an intervention also speaks to the level of dysfunction in our real estate sector.

As Labor Party leader Ivana Bacik has pointed out, a longer-term plan to deal with the problems in the housing market needs to be put in place. Even the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar expressed reservations about the initiative.

However, Mr Varadkar accepted Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien’s argument that “the number of people in need of emergency accommodation is on the rise”, and so action was needed.

Our housing emergency will not be approached through a political lens of left or right. It needs to be evaluated in a more practical way to determine whether we are right or not.

For more than a decade, governments have been clearly wrong. Failures created shortages, which made houses commodities to speculate on.

Global real estate concerns stepped in and wreaked havoc.

The wider the gap between demand and supply grew, the more profitable it became – and the further away the dream of owning a home got for far too many people.

George Bernard Shaw wrote, “No question is so difficult to answer as one to which the answer is obvious.”

Obvious or not, more homes is the only answer: the mystery is that it could be ignored for so long.