The Irish Homeless & Housing Crisis

South of Ireland series on Homelessness and the Housing Crisis in the Republic of Ireland. Episode 1

There’s a homelessness crisis in this country, a situation where up to 10,000 people are without a home in the Ireland of 2019, up to 4000 of which being children. Indeed, it’s the highest ever number on record, since the Dublin government’s Department of Housing has been taking record of such figures.

A crisis? A scandal? A disgrace you might say? All three perhaps, but superlative outrage doesn’t accurately describe the current trend and daily reality of the housing crisis in this country – the heartbreak, discomfort, the insecurity and the material and emotional difficulties suffered by the people and families at the epicentre of the current housing crisis.

Has this situation fallen out of the sky, as is often presented? An unfortunate reality about which little or nothing can be done – other than offer thoughts and prayers for the worst affected (such as the recently murdered tent dweller viciously beaten to death in Cork city centre), or merely to rely on the whims of the charitable who offer what they can – in vain attempts to respond to the deteriorating crisis of urban accommodation?

Or does this story have a trajectory? Did it come from somewhere – such as a previous situations and thus ongoing sets of societal and political relations. We hold that this is most certainly the case, and that the previous situation and arrangements that lead to the current housing crisis, and the ongoing set of relations that ensured its growth into the current abomination – are both economic and social. The result of choices, plain political choices with obvious consequences – and chosen by those who fit the picture all too well when it comes to decision making in this country – that affects the great majority of people here.

They are the same people, who have for generations mismanaged the resources of this country and are responsible for the growing inequality across all sectors of Ireland’s economy and society. No prizes needed for guessing the architects of Irelands economy and who they serve – The holy trinity of southern Irish Politics (FF/FG/Labour) and their Capitalist class masters in the banking, property and corporate industrial sectors. 

This series of articles, will look at some of the main issues around Irelands current housing crisis – identifying the structural problems and flaws in housing policy in this State – firmly identifying the State’s ideological marriage to the Neoliberal financialization of housing & shelter over the last 30 years as the source of so much misery and hardship for the people of Ireland in the current political configuration. 

The first article, which will be posted here next week – will look at the ideological difference between looking at Housing as a public good & need in the form of shelter, and the current trend towards treating people’s homes as financial assets to be valued and traded on the basis of financialization and Capitalist market norms.