In a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett has rubbished the latest report from the government’s Housing Agency for repeating failed market dogma in relation to meeting housing need in the country and failing to put centre stage the need for rent controls and directly state built council housing to deal with the worsening housing crisis.
Deputy Boyd Barrett warned that current government policy and the approach of the housing agency would hurtle the country towards a repeat of the housing bubble that crashed the economy, while failing to provide for actual housing need and allowing the current housing crisis to worsen.
Richard Boyd Barrett said: “It is incredibly frustrating to hear the housing agency recycle the government’s nonsense about how to deal with the dire housing crisis in this country, when the policies currently being pursued are a carbon copy of the disastrous market and bank led housing policy that created the last bubble and crash. You really have to ask, have these people learned nothing at all from the most disastrous economic and social crash in the history of the state?
Of course, we need supply but if that supply is not affordable it will do nothing to provide housing for those that need it and will rapidly re-create the conditions that led to the recent housing crash.
The reason private developers and banks are not building on a sufficient scale at the moment is because there is not enough profit in it for them. They will only build when it is profitable and the pressure to make profits will then drive the cost of housing out of the reach of most people. This circle can only be squared by banks then re-inflating the credit bubble. This way lies madness!
The only sustainable and sane way to deal with the absolutely dire housing crisis is for the state itself to commence a massive emergency social and affordable housing programme and to simultaneously impose rent controls, so that the cost of housing has a realistic relationship to the income of the tenants or home-buyers on low and middle incomes.
For that state to do with would be much cheaper, as it would take the profit margin for developers or landlords out of the cost of social and affordable accommodation and it would also generate rental revenue for the state and produce huge savings in the current expenditure on rent allowance, leasing schemes and emergency housing services.
Finally, this approach would more generally stabilise the wider housing market, including the private market. If there was a much larger bank of low-cost housing, it would keep a lid on house prices and rent more generally – benefitting not just those reliant on social housing but also those buying in the private market.
It really is a no-brainer what needs to be done, but tragically the government is moving in the exact opposite direction back towards the market, private developer and bank led madness that produced such a disastrous crisis so recently. It is tragic to see the housing agency echo this nonsense.”