Threshold brings together Irish and European housing experts to reimagine Ireland’s future

General News

One-day housing policy conference is part of housing charity’s 40th anniversary events

The housing crisis in Ireland can be solved, but we must draw from the experience of our European neighbours to achieve this. That’s according to national housing charity, Threshold, which is today (26.10.18) hosting a one-day conference looking at housing policy in Ireland and across Europe, as part of a series of events to mark its 40th anniversary. ‘Reimagining Ireland’s Future – Housing, Wealth and Inequality’ brings together a range of Irish and European housing and social experts to examine what renting and home ownership could look like in Ireland in the decades to come and how these concepts can interplay.

Speakers include:

  • Mark Stephens, Professor of Public Policy and Director of The Urban Institute at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, who will examine the lessons from the past in Scotland that may shape our future in terms of housing, wealth and inequality.
  • Dr Niamh Hourigan, from the UCC Department of Sociology, who will speak about cultural roots and future horizons of Ireland’s rental crisis.
  • Richard Ronald, Professor of Housing, Society and Space at the University of Amsterdam, who will discuss the global trend associated with a growing intergenerational divide and the emergence of ‘Generation Rent’ and ‘Generation Landlord’.
  • Dawn Foster, author and broadcaster, who will speak about housing and homelessness in the UK.

Commenting ahead of the event, Threshold’s Chairperson Dr Aideen Hayden said: “Threshold was established at a time when discrimination in terms of access to rented accommodation, illegal evictions and poor living conditions were widespread. Unfortunately, not much has changed in the intervening years. Ireland faces severe challenges in dealing with a homelessness crisis caused by a failed rented sector. Moreover, we now have a whole new “generation rent” whose housing future is very uncertain, unless significant steps are taken to secure more social housing and access to affordable rental and purchase schemes. Without significant changes, many Irish people will live in the rented sector for the rest of their lives, a sector that is not fit for purpose. Much of what is happening in Ireland is replicated elsewhere, falling rates of homeownership and rising rates of renting are a feature of many developed European countries. However, we have much to learn from the successes and failures of our European and international counterparts and I look forward to hearing from our panel of national and international speakers.”

“Our conference today is not focused on the housing crisis but on asking questions on how we will live in the future, through examining inequality, opportunity and tenure. We are delighted to bring together such a fantastic range of Irish and international expertise to inform our discussions today.”

Threshold chief executive, John-Mark McCafferty added: “There are solutions to our housing crisis – other similar countries do not face the same extent of crisis that we do. However, political will is key to ensuring that the close to 10,000 homeless people find suitable long-term accommodation, and that tenants have affordable, secure and sustainable accommodation throughout all of their life stages.

“A home is not just where you live, it’s a place of sanctuary, offering protection from the stresses and strains of daily living. Government investment in housing needs to meet the needs of the population first and investors second. I am looking forward to learning from the experiences of other countries and the insights of our speakers and panellists, which Ireland can build on in developing our housing policies.”

This morning’s keynote address will be given by Professor of Public Policy and Director of The Urban Institute at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Mark Stephens. He will question if lessons from Scotland’s past can inform and shape future thinking. Commenting, he said: “The Irish Government doesn’t have to look too far for effective solutions to the myriad of problems associated with a housing crisis. For example, the Scottish government has committed to making social rented housing a central part of the housing system by ending the ‘Right to Buy’ and financing a 50,000-unit affordable homes programme. Private tenancies have been reformed to provide much greater security and Scotland has the strongest statutory rights for homeless people in the world.”

President of the International Union of Tenants (IUT), Sven Bergenstrahle, speaking for the first time in Dublin, will give an afternoon keynote address on best practice from our European neighbours. He said: “The market has never met, and will never meet, the needs of low- to middle-income households. Past experiences from across the globe point to a need for greater regulation in the housing market and the need for a balance of interests between landlords and tenants.”

The ‘Reimagining Ireland’s Future – Housing, Wealth and Inequality’ conference is being held at the Wood Quay Venue, Wood Quay, Dublin 8 today from 9.30am until 4pm

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