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The Housing Commission calls for ‘radical’ housing reset

The Housing Commission has called for a “radical strategic reset of housing policy” and has estimated an underlying housing deficit in Ireland of up to 256,000 homes.

The expert body was established as part of the Programme for Government to examine housing issues, such as supply.

In its report, submitted to the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien earlier this month, the commission points to “ineffective decision making and reactive policy making where risk aversion dominates”.

The report’s executive overview, seen by RTÉ News, calls for “emergency action” to address the “housing deficit”.

In another section of the report examining Ireland’s housing requirement, the commission estimates that the underlying housing deficit ranges from 212,500 to 256,000 homes based on 2022 Census figures.

This refers to “pent-up demand” in the system, before other factors such as future population growth and inward migration are considered.

The report was submitted to the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, earlier this month

The report states that “emergency delivery” is required to meet this deficit.

It takes a mid-range figure of 235,000 homes (between 212,500 to 256,000) as the “emergency” level required between 2025 and 2034.

Based on these figures, an annual average of 23,500 homes would have to be delivered just to address the deficit, before future housing requirements are considered.

It’s understood that this annual target, to address the deficit, would have to be delivered in addition to existing housing delivery plans.

Under current Housing for All targets, an average of 33,000 homes are due to be delivered between 2022 and 2030.

This would mean that the average annual delivery of homes between 2025 and 2034 would need to be in excess of 56,000 units.

The commission also estimates the required delivery level if the average household size reduces to 1.9 persons and the population increases to 7.25 million by 2050. In such a scenario an average of 81,400 homes per annum would be required.

However, it also shows that if their average household size is 2.4 persons and the population only increases to 6.25 million people, then an average of just 33,400 homes per annum are required.

The Housing Commission calls for a “targeted increase in the proportion of social and cost-rental housing to 20% of the national stock”.

Among its 83 recommendations is one to establish a “Housing Delivery Oversight Executive” to “drive coordination across legislation, regulation, and administrative practices”.

According to the commission, the current household size in Ireland is artificially elevated due to housing scarcity.

Under current Housing for All targets, an average of 33,000 homes are due to be delivered between 2022 and 2030

It also finds that “Ireland has, by comparison with our European partners, one of the highest levels of public expenditure for housing, yet one of the poorest outcomes”.

It believes that while specific details in relation to housing delivery can be “complex, the overall strategy to successfully achieve a sustainable housing system is not complicated”.

However, it acknowledges “several pressing issues currently affecting housing in Ireland, such as high inflation in the construction industry, delays in the planning system and acute pressures on the availability of accommodation”.

It adds that the “focus of the Commission is long-term, the recommendations outlined in this report are aimed at shaping housing policy into the future”.

According to the commission, funding in the order of €16 to €20 billion per annum is required to deliver the required level of housing, adding that this should come from both public and private sources.

In the last budget, the Government allocated almost €7 billion to the Department of Housing, of which €5.1 billion was to be spent on capital projects. In 2022, the Government estimated that there was approximately €6 billion worth of private development funding in the market each year.

This report from the Housing Commission recommends that a significant increase in private and public funding is required.

The Housing Commission was established by the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien in 2021. It has yet to be published in full.

Among its fourteen members were high profile figures such as Professor Ronan Lyons of Trinity College Dublin and The former General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Patricia King and property developer Michael O’Flynn were also on the commission.

It held over 200 meetings and heard from more than 70 housing and industry experts during its term.

Separately, the commission also prepared a report on proposed wording for a referendum on housing, which was submitted to the Minister last year. A minority report on the same subject was also submitted to the Minister, which was supported by three members of the Commission.

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