The Government's dependence on the private rental sector to resolve housing issues neither works in the short-term nor the long-term.
That’s according to Technological University of Dublin Senior Lecturer in Housing, Planning and Development Dr Lorcan Sirr, who was speaking to Newstalk Breakfast about the State’s reliance on the private sector.
“We started this in the late 80s, early 90s, where we started to kind of use the private sector more than the State,” he said.
“The State withdrew back into itself and stopped building housing and stopped providing housing for people who normally would have got a house from the council.
“We need to have another look at that, that policy obviously isn’t working.”
Dr Sirr said the idea of direct bills by local authorities is a misconception.
“The interesting thing about direct builds and local authorities is local authorities never actually directly built themselves,” he said.
“They go out and they tender for work, and they employ normal house builders – companies that you would see around the cities of Ireland, and they do that the same as everybody else.
“Increasingly, they've been reluctant to do that.
“Out of the 7,500/8,000 new social houses that were delivered last year, only about 1,600 were delivered by councils.
“Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown built zero, one of the wealthiest local authorities in the country.”
Dr Sirr said Part V, legislation that means that developers had to hand over 20% of their housing to the local authority, meant skills in the local authority “went slowly over the last couple decades.”
“They still have county architects and engineers and procurement but not at the scale they would have before,” he said.
“We used to have a thing called the National Billing Agency, which was brilliant because that was like a centralised resource to help local authorities go out and do the things that they didn't have to do the skills [to do].
“We got rid of that into The Housing Agency …. so, a centralised resource pool like that would be a great idea rather than giving every council in the country a couple of architects.”
Land Development Agency
Dr Sirr said the Land Development Agency does not play a significant enough role in areas such as providing housing for people in direct provision and Ukrainian refugees.
“Back in the early 90s, we also got rid of the research section, which did all sorts of research about concrete blocks, and it would have caught mica and pyrite,” he said.
“We are not arguing that the State does everything itself, but unless the State picks itself up by the bootstraps a little bit more, we're going to end up in a situation where we're going to be relying on everybody else.
“They control the quality, they control the price, and it's not cheap – it's always cheaper when you do it yourself.”
You can listen back here: