Focus Ireland today called on all political parties to commit to establishing a ‘Commission on Housing’ after the next election, to work out a broad consensus on the supply of affordable, secure housing over the next twenty years.
Speaking at the National Housing Conference in the Talbot Hotel, Stillorgan, Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy said that “behind the apparent agreement that we need more affordable housing, positions on housing policy are so polarised and antagonistic that nobody can reliably know what the policy will be in a few years. Depending upon who you listen to, private landlords, REITS, Approved Housing Bodies, institutional investors, vulture funds and homeless charities are an essential part of the housing solution or else the devil incarnate to be banned abolished or fiercely regulated.”
He added: “This level of fundamental disagreement will condemn us to an ever ending cycle of boom and bust, and housing insecurity for generations to come. We need to start thinking beyond the current crisis and start thinking about how to establish a longer-term broad consensus – a consensus capable of lasting several decades – about how we ‘do housing’ in Ireland.”
Allen said that the proposal for a ‘Commission on Housing’ emerged from a diverse group of economists, housing policy experts, social housing providers, private developers, senior public servants, people with long experience of public affairs, which met over the last few months to discuss a longer-term perspective on the current crisis.
The group, chaired by experienced public policy expert, Eddie Molly, came to the view that the key to a lasting solution to the housing crisis is not a particular set of ideas or proposals but rather an effective deliberative process involving a broad range of interests, professionals, people with specialist knowledge, political parties and, of course, citizens. The group proposed that the Government which comes to power after the next election – no matter who is in that Government – should establish a broad based ‘Commission on Housing’ with an ambitious project of charting out a broad approach to the delivery of housing capable of giving us a broadly consistent approach to housing – planning, financing, land management, rent regulation, community building, homelessness and many other fundamental issues – which can be relied upon for longer term planning, and which avoids the boom and bust of the past.
Allen said “Let’s be clear, the objective is not a ‘blue print’ for the future, this is about the broad parameters of policy not the exact location of housing. In relation to housing this is a novel proposal. But it is by no means unique – the same self-defeating disagreement existed in many other economic areas – corporation tax, the role of multi-nationals, unemployment – and were brought not into consensus but into sufficiently broad agreement that real progress has been possible. The same has been true of social issues such as same-sex marriage and the most contentious of all, the national question. But nothing of this nature has ever been attempted on housing, which is so basic to our individual and social well-being – and which we are so badly failing to solve.”
Full details of the proposal and the group that developed the idea can be found at http://bit.ly/HousingComm
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