People are 'right to be enraged' that those in council homes can make €14,000 a year by renting out a room, but need to see the bigger picture.
That's according to Conor Skehan, former chair of The Housing Agency and columnist with the Sunday Independent.
He was speaking as the Government hopes to add the equivalent of 28,000 homes across the country by allowing council tenants to rent out rooms in their houses for up to €14,000 a year tax-free.
This will also apply to recipients of medical cards from May 1st.
Local authorities will take responsibility for the scheme, and would need to be informed of any such rental situations.
Mr Skehan told The Pat Kenny Show people should see the bigger picture.
"I think that, at the big picture, it is fantastic to see the debate move on from giving more money to builders to build more houses," he said.
"I'm delighted to see the debate at least beginning to talk about managing our existing house stock".
Mr Skehan said this will be 'hard to swallow' for some.
"I think the issue around people who are in receipt of any type of benefits from the State will always be emotional," he said.
"It will always be very hard to swallow for somebody who, as somebody once said, gets up early in the morning, goes to work and all that kind of stuff.
"That kind of easy set of tropes are very easy to stimulate and make emotional.
"The core thing here is we're starting to address the issue of management of housing stock.
"The main thing is for this to start to get debated".
'The hot button'
Mr Skehan said the amount of money may need to change.
"Maybe it'll be a future piece of work to change the amount of money, but the thing in principle is that we are freeing up housing stock - particularly in areas that are likely to contribute to people ending up on emergency lists".
Mr Skehan said criticism that people can make tax-free money while living in a house provided by the State is "the hot button - it is so easy to press".
"I would rather live in a country that errs on the side of generosity than see what happened disastrously under the British poll tax regime, where people were trying to force downsizing by punitive taxes".
Responding to text messages criticising the idea, he said: "Your listeners are absolutely right to be enraged, and to give that feedback into the system.
"It is all about balance, there's no doubt about that, but at least we're moving in the right direction," he added.