Out of Reach - Inequalities in the Irish Housing System

27th March 2012

Out of Reach

How is it possible that Ireland, now one of the richest countries in the European Union, has a serious housing crisis?

Why have house prices risen beyond the reach of so many? Why are standards of accommodation and insecurity in the private rented sector a persistent problem for tenants? Why has the provision of social housing fallen so far short of requirements at a time of massive housing need and a growing homeless population? Why do we continue to sell off Local Authority housing to tenants and public land to private developers? Is the current enthusiasm for public private partnerships justified?

And what has government done to deal with the housing crisis?


P.J. Drudy and Michael Punch set out to answer these questions. Is it acceptable that housing should be treated as yet another commodity to be traded on the 'market' like race horses, motor cars or stocks and shares? Or should housing be treated as a shelter and a home - a not-for-profit necessity and a right to be achieved by all, irrespective of ability to pay? The authors propose a number of central principles and policy innovations for a more progressive and equitable housing system.

The book concludes that housing must be seen as a basic human right and this right should be established in legislation in line with signed international covenants and agreements. This means that housing has to be treated as a social good not simply like a commodity for trading and wealth generation. In the light of this there are a number of critical recommendations for immediate action. If the Government fails to act, further persistent and significant house price increases, tracked closely by private rents, could impede if not seriously compromise the considerable economic progress achieved in Ireland over the last decade.


About the authors

P. J. Drudy took his Ph.D. degree at Cambridge University where he was formerly a Fellow of
St Edmund's College and a Lecturer at the Department of Land Economy. He is now retired from his position as a Fellow, Associate Professor of Economics and Co-Director of the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at Trinity College, Dublin. He has been actively involved with a range of community organisations and public bodies. Professor Drudy has published extensively on urban and regional policy and housing and is Co-Editor of the series Dublin: Economic and Social Trends.

Michael Punch took his Ph.D. degree at Trinity College Dublin where he was formerly a Threshold Research Fellow at the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies. He is currently the Broad Curriculum Lecturer in Globalisation in the Departments of Geography and Sociology at Trinity. He has also worked with many community-voluntary groups on action-research projects and in an advisory capacity. He has published on economic restructuring, local development, urban planning and housing policy in a number of Irish and international journals, including Housing Studies, Antipode, Journal of Irish Urban Studies and the Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland.


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