The legacy of anxious tenant and the battle for security of tenure continues to educate much political debates and imagery around housing. The longing to be free of landlordism usually is the primary factor for owner occupation at any cost. Many people view Irish as a conservative race by nature. In the field of housing, unique features have developed over the years which make Irish different from other European states. One of these features is the longing to own one’s own home.
Successive regime have acknowledged this natural tendency towards this type of tenure and the need of providing it by introducing measures structured to encourage home ownership over the years. Irish housing policy has been greatly controlled by developers and house building companies since the 60s. This is still same today because possession of riches, properties, land and housing is not extensively divulged (O’Connell, 2007). Evolution of Irish Housing Policy Current Irish housing policy has been struggling to tackle the economic development of the past ten years.
The upsurge of the economy since the mid 90s resulted to a fast growth in demand for housing mainly in the major cities, with a belated growth in housing development/production. Between 1993 and 2001, the real economic growth was approximately 8% per annum (Norris and O’Connell 2002). Irish emigrants returning home hunted housing in the thriving economy and the pace of new household establishment rose due to absence of emigration in the history of Ireland state.
This led to a flourishing housing market and housing price inflated by 20% per year. All this unanticipated development occurred without a rational housing policy suitable for a modern industrializing nation. House builders and developers were left to address the new phenomenon (Norris et al 2007). Politicians complained of the rising prices which were excluding part of the population from accessing housing. This led to development of measures and plans for allowing access to those excluded from the market.
One of the key responses of the government was the 2003 partnership agreement which had pledged to provide some ten thousand affordable housing units for low economic group who could not afford housing in the market. This was done by coordinating housing developer and market to develop cheaper units for sale. The state offered assistance through local government and provided subsidies of some state land (Norris and O’Connell 2002). The establishment of social housing policy in Ireland has mostly been seen as a responsibility of the domineering class to integrate the poorest of the low economy into the national community.
Attempts to address social segregation of many Ireland population which finds it roots from historical residualisation of social housing have birthed another development and building chances instead of any real resource distribution (O’Connell, 2007). However, the 21st century Ireland housing policy is mostly dealing with housing equity, affordability, mortgage securitization and seasonally horrors of homelessness. The year 2000 was marked with increased social housing construction but this failed to recapture the relative output seen before the 80s.
To this end, a number of policies have been formulated and introduced with mixed accomplishment. The first and immediate reaction to drops in social housing was a changing towards housing allowances for private renters (rent supplement) as a way of accommodating low economic households. Though this was structured as a short term housing support, the number of claimants and duration of claiming increased and the scheme became a parallel housing arrangement (Norris et al 2008).
Doubts on the efficacy of this scheme and the poor quality of houses rented to claimant made the government to respond by announcing a new Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) in 2002. The local government was made responsible for administration of rent supplement claims and take long term lease from private renters for letting to these households. This was aimed at reducing rental costs and improvement of the quality of accommodation. Social housing reduced its role as a means towards home ownership in the 90s.
This led to difficulties in home purchasing and the government came up with schemes to enable the poor householders to purchase their own house. These schemes included the affordable housing scheme, the shared ownership scheme and the mortgage allowances. Between 1991 and 2002, 29% home owners availed themselves for the schemes but there was a question of the sustainability of the scheme due to high mortgage arrears (Norris et al 2007).
In 2003, 38% of home owners in the shared ownership scheme had over 3 month arrears (Norris & O’Connell 2002). Conclusion Severe economic recession and related political predicament which has hit Ireland in the recent years has made future social housing prediction difficult. However, the mood of latest housing policy changes is an indication of likelihood of expansion of state intervention in the housing system. There has been a radical increase of private rented sector regulation as well as mainstream social housing production (Cowan 2006).
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