Damning housing report indicative of ‘fundamentally flawed’ housing policy

Damning housing report indicative of ‘fundamentally flawed’ housing policy

Speaking in the aftermath of the Housing Commission’s report calling for a “radical strategic reset of housing policy” and which identified substantial deficits concerning the provision of housing, longstanding homelessness campaigner Fr Peter McVerry said that the report, which was publicised on Tuesday, is indicative of a housing policy that is “fundamentally flawed” and that progress in tackling the mounting problem is “painfully slow”.

Agreeing with the report’s findings, Fr McVerry said that he “would go along with the report. Clearly the number of homeless people keeps increasing so whatever we’re doing with housing is certainly not decreasing the numbers of homeless people. So housing policy is fundamentally flawed, no question about that.

“We’re not building enough houses – the rents keep going up, the house prices keep going up. I see no sense of urgency in the Government’s response to the housing crisis and the housing policy is not working.”

A veteran of the consequences of substandard government housing policy, Fr McVerry conceded that the lack of urgency is frustrating but he’s well accustomed to it at this stage.

“It’s frustrating but nothing new,” he said. “Everybody working in the area of housing vulnerable people is well aware that we have a crisis that isn’t being adequately addressed. The primary problem is the reliance on the private sector – we’re totally reliant on it to provide housing.

“I think we need to start seeing Government itself providing social and affordable housing and while they’re committed to that, the progress is painfully slow.”

Concerning solutions, Fr McVerry called for the Government to immediately implement the Kenny report, devised over 50 years ago, to ensure that the flaws of Government’s housing policy are remedied – although he points out that many in the country have a particular resistance to do so.

“We need the introduction of the Kenny report,” he said. “It came out 50 years ago and recommended controlling the price of building land – one of the major contributions to the lack of housing is the cost of the land.

“If we introduced the Kenny report, we could immediately reduce the cost of housing by 1/3. But the Government doesn’t want to do that – they don’t want to see the price of housing coming down because most of their votes are homeowners.”