In little more than a decade, the housing system in Ireland has gone from the peak phase of a property boom to a collapse of the market and dramatic falls in both housing output and prices, and now to a situation where house prices are rising, particularly in urban areas, but where we continue to see the unfolding of the consequences of the ‘boom and bust’ in Irish housing – and the failure of public policy evident in both phases.
This issue of Working Notes draws attention to the significant problems now facing tens of thousands of households in Ireland in terms of housing access, affordability and security.
The most serious indicator of the housing crisis is the increase in homelessness, reflected in the rise in the number of people sleeping rough, and in the number of individuals, and of families with children, having to live in emergency accommodation. Peter McVerry writes: ‘Homelessness is now worse than at any time in recent memory .... Many of the ‘new homeless’ have never been homeless before, and until this current crisis would never for a moment have thought they could become homeless’.