Why Can't I Move Out?
“I’m 23 years old and I’m working. Why can’t I move out?”
This question must be a common thought for many of the generation of young Irish people to freshly reach adulthood. According to the 2016 Census, there are 460,000 adult children living at home with their parents. A majority of these people are working full-time, and no doubt some of those are wondering why they don't have a gaff of their own.
The simple answer to the question is this: there aren’t enough houses and apartments for the people who need them. A global recession and careless government policy have given us a serious lack of housing in Ireland. There are issues everywhere, but the greatest crisis is in Dublin.
When people need something but there isn’t enough of it, the price of that something goes up. When it comes to moving out, more people have been in competition for fewer houses. That means the cost of rent goes up. This has gone on a few years now, especially in Dublin, where rents are higher than they were ten years ago.
Ten years ago was the peak of the boom, the Celtic Tiger, when everybody was earning shedloads of cash and going on holiday three times a year. Yet somehow, it costs more to move into a house now, when we’re all still half-broke? The irony is the main reason for the housing shortage is the collapse of the Celtic Tiger in 2007/08. The banks made a show of themselves. The builders went bust and stopped building. The government was broke too – partially because they stopped getting taxes from all the houses being sold – so they chose to forget about the working people, cut the social housing budget and bail out their banker buddies.
After everything went tits up, we actually had some extra houses lying around. For a while rent prices went down, but about 5 years ago they increased again as competition for housing got tougher. You can see this on the handy graph below. The reason the prices have continued to increase until today is this: fuck all houses have been built in the last 10 years, while the population has grown by 500,000 people.
We’re told the economy is doing well these days. Think of all the GDP percentage growth and the development of the IT, pharma and tourism industries! The reality for most people feels very different. The youth and the poor of Ireland are still feeling the effects of the recession. Young adults are stuck in their parent’s homes, waking up in the same room they had at age 14. There are around 8000 homeless people in this country. The most vulnerable amongst us are suffering from the mistakes and delusions of the financial and political establishment.
So, what’s the good news? Houses and apartments are slowly being built, but there’s a lot of catching up to do. The Housing Agency estimates that in the next four years we need to build about 25,000 new homes a year to have any chance of housing everyone sometime soon. The Housing Agency says that roughly 15,000 homes were completed in 2016. Not quite enough, but we’re getting there. Truth is, no-one knows exactly how long it will while before everyone has a half decent roof over their heads.
The bottom line is housing should be affordable for the people who need it. In some parts of Ireland this is the case, but not everywhere. The National Economic and Social Council (NESC) estimates that between a quarter and a third of households can’t afford to buy their own home or pay rent. Families need a home to raise their children, and young adults need the freedom and independence of their own space to flourish. We’re in the middle of the worst housing and rental crisis in recent memory, but raising awareness and talking about the issues does make a difference. Stay tuned to FAC for more information and discussion on the Housing Crisis.