Re: Re: Future of council housing

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In some countries, state housing support is entirely provided via rent and mortgage subsidy, avoiding the state assuming the role of landlord. I suspect this might be a better arrangement.

I agree 100%. Building council houses may have made some sort of Keynesian sense when the country was in the state it was in years ago. Also, at the time the national housing stock was in a terrible state with the worst property consigned to the rental market. With little or no social welfare, the conditions for those who couldn’t afford to buy a home was terrible. None of these conditions currently exist. The private sector is pumping out about 100K new builds a year, rents for decent accomodation are reasonable and the welfare system provides plenty of financial support, particularly for families.

There are many disadvantages to having housing built by councils. Efficiency is very poor. But the worst is the creation of social ghettos – the consequences of which are still with us particularly in the bigger cities like Dublin, Cork and Limerick. We copied the UK’s model which suffers similar localised social deprivation. There is also something extremely unfair about the method of allocation which is effectively hereditory. Depending on your parents, you might be lucky enough to live in a council house off Adelaide road (probably worth well over a million euro) or Stephen’s Green or unlucky enough to end up the worst part of Neilstown, Jobstown, Darndale or Moyross (where you can buy a house for 3k). If you then apply for a council house, you are given priority for housing in your area. Mobility for council tennants is limited which adds to the disadvantages faced when competing for decent jobs.

The German model, I believe, simply provides decent rent support. As a result, welfare recipients are dispersed and they suffer no stigma as a result of having a bad address. Most importantly, they maintain the freedom and independence enjoyed by people who pay their own rent. Obviously, proper tenancy legislation is vital.

In the long term, our system actually disadvantages the people it supposed to help; the children of people who are dependent on the council to provide housing are far more likely to find themselves in the same position. Thus we have families who for generations have been dependent on the state for almost everything.

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