Dear Minister Eoghan Murphy,
We, the undersigned academics and policy experts, recognise, along with other housing experts, homelessness charities, and most politicians, that Ireland is experiencing a housing crisis on a scale never seen before. Homelessness figures continue to rise, while rents have increased by over 40% nationally since 2011, and housing conditions worsen for more and more of the population. The response from government thus far has been wholly inadequate. The evidence strongly shows that treating housing as a commodity has exacerbated homelessness, prevented the building of sufficient numbers of affordable houses, and stoked inflation in house prices and rents. The current housing crisis demands extraordinary emergency measures. To this end, in solidarity with the Inner City Helping Homeless and Irish Housing Network, we support the six demands below.
Current government solutions through ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ overly rely on the private sector to deliver affordable housing, despite our past record of failing to deliver housing through the private sector. During the Celtic Tiger years, tax incentives for developers increased housing supply to excessive proportions. According to the 2011 Census, there were 289,451 vacant units nationally; in terms of oversupply, there were at least 110,000 units. This approach, rather than making housing more affordable, has resulted in housing price increases of between 300% and 400% in different parts of the country. As the government did not provide sustainable long-term policies to deliver a stable social housing supply, as was the was the case for countries such as Denmark and Austria,  when Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), created to deliver social housing, collapsed during the crash no alternatives were set in place. Meanwhile, the private rental sector remained underdeveloped and poorly regulated. The result is that Ireland has now some of the worst tenant rights of any country in Europe. The series of housing crises in Ireland have only been significantly exacerbated by the government response to the crisis.
Cumulatively, as a society, Ireland is steadily moving from treating housing as a basic need and right to treating housing as a commodity. However, international evidence clearly shows that government policies that treat housing as a commodity have led to growing wealth inequality, housing insecurity and human rights abuses. In 2017, a report by the UN Special Rapporteur for Housing to the Human Rights Council concluded that “rather than treating housing as a commodity valued primarily as an asset for the accumulation of wealth [governments must] reclaim housing as a social good, and thus ensure the human right to a place to live in security and dignity”. We, the undersigned, urge the government to: to acknowledge the current housing crisis, change its housing policies and treat housing as a societal good, and to provide affordable housing to all to benefit Irish society as a whole.
Irish Academics and Policy Experts Supporting Housing Justice
Dr Véronique Altglas, Lecturer in Sociology, School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast
Dr. Patrick Bresnihan, Department of Geography, Trinity College Dublin
Dr Michael Byrne, School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, University College Dublin
Dr Patrick Collins, School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway
Prof Linda Connolly, Director, Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute
Dr Laurence Cox, Sr Lecturer in Sociology, Maynooth University
Dr Nessa Cronin, Centre for Irish Studies and Associate Director, Moore Institute, NUI Galway
Ciarán Cuffe, Programme Chair, Masters Programme in Urban Regeneration & Development, School of Transport Engineering, Environment & Planning, Dublin Institute of Technology
Professor Anna Davies, Department of Geography, Trinity College Dublin
Dr Sharae Deckard, Lecturer in World Literature, School of English, Drama and Film, at University College Dublin
Dr Jessica Doyle, Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University
Samantha Dunne, MA, South Dublin County Public Partnership Network Coordinator
Dr Claire Edwards, University College Cork
Dr Frances Fahy, Head of Geography, Sr Lecturer, School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway
Dr Eugene Farrell, Lecturer, Physical Geography and Director, MSc Programme ‘Coastal and Marine Environments’, NUI Galway; Member, Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research, and President, Irish Geomorphology Group
Dr Eoin Flaherty, Asst Prof, School of Sociology, University College Dublin
Dr Ronan Foley, Sr Lecturer, Department of Geography, Maynooth University
Dr Alistair Fraser, Department of Geography, Maynooth University
Dr Paula Gilligan, Dept of Humanities, Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dún Laoghaire
Dr Leonie Hannan, Queen’s University, Belfast
Dr Rory Hearne, Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute
Dr Nuala Johnson MRIA, Queen’s University Belfast
Prof Gerry Kearns, Department of Geography, Maynooth University
Prof Rob Kitchin, Maynooth University
Dr M. Satish Kumar, FRGS, RCS, FHEA, Director of Internationalisation, School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast
Dr David Landy, Department of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin
Dr Joe Larragy, Lecturer in Social Policy, Maynooth University
Dr Philip Lawton, Lecturer in Human Geography, Maynooth University
Dr Steve Loyal, School of Sociology, University College Dublin
Dr Mark Maguire, Department of Anthropology, Maynooth University
Dr Lidia Manzo, Department of Geography, Maynooth University
Dr Chandana Mathur, Maynooth University
Prof Aoife McLysaght, Trinity College Dublin
Dr Alan Mee, Lecturer in Urban Design, School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin
Dr Julien Mercille, Assoc Prof, University College Dublin
Assoc Prof Niamh Moore-Cherry, School of Geography, University College Dublin
Dr John Morrissey, Associate Director, Moore Institute for Humanities, NUI Galway
Dr Anne Mulhall, University College Dublin
Prof Enda Murphy, University College Dublin
Dr Michelle Norris, University College Dublin
Prof John O’Brennan, Maynooth University
Dr Cormac O’Brien, Asst Prof, School of English, Drama and Film, University College Dublin
Dr Cian O’Callaghan, Asst Prof of Urban Geography, School of Natural Sciences,Trinity College Dublin
Dr Féilim Ó hAdhmaill, School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork
Dr Eoin O’Mahoney, Geographer
Dr Jacqui O’Riordan, School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork
Dr Michael Punch, School of Sociology, University College Dublin
Dr John Reynolds, Department of Law, Maynooth University
Prof Jan Rigby, Department of Geography, Maynooth University
Dr Silvia Ross, University College Cork
Dr Rory Rowan, Department of Geography, University of Zurich
Dr Helen Shaw, Maynooth University
Dr Henry Silke, School of Culture and Communication, University of Limerick
Dr Karen Smith, Lecturer in Equality Studies, University College Dublin
Prof Ulf Strohmayer, School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway
Prof Karen Till, Department of Geography, Maynooth University
Dr Kevin Lynch, Lecturer in Geography, National University of Ireland Galway
If you are an academic and would like to join this petition, please contact Prof Karen Till at email@example.com
The Academics and Policy Experts Supporting Housing Justice above
support the Demands of Inner City Helping Homeless and the Irish Housing Network below:
1. Emergency Accommodation Independent Review:
An independent human rights and care review of all emergency housing,
from private to charity and state run, must be conducted immediately.
2. Emergency Accommodation as a Centre of Care:
Ensure that all Emergency Accommodation facilities have 24-hr access, with a fully funded response team,
including wrap around supports, that focuses on: mental health, security and privacy for all residents.
In addition, full and enforceable complaint procedures must be available and implemented.
3. No to Family Hubs.
Warehousing families is not a solution.
Instead we demand the creation of safe and affordable homes, not hubs,
for those experiencing homelessness and/or housing crises.
4. No Evictions and Security of Tenure:
We demand the end of economic evictions,
as well as request security of tenure and housing rights,
including affordable rents, for all currently in the private rental market.
5. Build and Buy Social Housing:
To provide longer-term stable communities and cities, social housing must be provided.
To this end, the 183,000 empty houses identified in the 2016 Census should be transformed to social housing, and portfolios purchased from NAMA. In addition, new social housing must be planned and built at a reasonable rate.
6. Mortgages Write Down.
For those in mortgage distress in their single family homes, negative equity should be cancelled.
 Healy, T., & Goldrick-Kelly, P. (2017). Ireland’s Housing Emergency-Time for a Game Changer. Nevin Economic Research Institute Working Paper, (41).
 Of the 289,451 vacant units, 168,427 were vacant houses, 61,629 vacant apartments and 59,395 vacant holiday homes. 2011 Census data available at: www.cso.ie/en/census/.
 Although the oversupply had reduced to 77,00 units by 2016, these units are mostly not located in places where housing is needed.
 Kitchin, R., Gleeson, J., Keaveney, K., & O’Callaghan, C. (2010). A haunted landscape: housing and ghost estates in post-Celtic Tiger Ireland. National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) Working Paper, 59.
 Norris, M., & Byrne, M. (2017). Housing Market Volatility, Stability and Social Rented Housing: comparing Austria and Ireland during the global financial crisis (UCD Geary working papers No. 201705).
 Hearne, R. (2011). Public Private Partnerships in Ireland: Failed Experiment or the Way Forward for the State. Manchester University Press.
 Sirr, L. (2014). Renting in Ireland: The Social, Voluntary and Private Sectors;. Mcgill-Queens University Press.
 Kitchin, R., Hearne, R., & O’Callaghan, C. (2015). Housing in Ireland: From crisis to crisis. http://eprints.maynoothuniversity.ie/6313/1/RK-Housing-Ireland-77WP.pdf.
 Hearne, R. (2017) A home or a wealth generator? Inequality, financialization and the Irish housing crisis. TASC. https://www.tasc.ie/download/pdf/a_home_or_a_wealth_generator_inequality_financialisation_and_the_irish_housing_crisis.pdf.
 Aalbers, M. B. (2016). The financialization of housing: A political economy approach. Routledge; Fields, D., & Uffer, S. (2016). The financialisation of rental housing: A comparative analysis of New York City and Berlin. Urban Studies, 53 (7), 1486-1502; Marcuse, P., & Madden, D. (2016). In Defense of Housing: The Politics of Crisis. Verso Books.
 Farha, L. (2017) Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context. January 2017; available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/HousingIndex.aspx