Irish National Newspaper Toys Cautiously With A Fix For The Nation’s Affordable Housing Crisis

A night time shot of the Custom House in Dublin, viewed across the River Liffey
Custom House in sepia photo by Anna & Michal is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
The Custom House in Dublin, where details of the latest affordable housing plan are being hammered out.

It’s an era when most responsible senior governments are scrambling to come up national initiative to tackle a global disease: the affordable housing crisis. (We’ll leave aside the U.S., both because of its currently-held pride in political irresponsibility, and also because of its unflagging and decades-old bureaucratic obsession with driving undesirable (and therefore undeserving) classes and races out of shelter and into the snow.)

So naturally we were excited to see the following article title: The Irish Times view on the housing crisis: how to fix a broken system. A national housing crisis, a national newspaper, offering no doubt a very useful national perspective on how to fix the problem.

No doubt? Rather, ‘no fix.’ However, this ‘fix free’ article from the Irish Times is useful for placing its finger on the heart of the problem.

It gives a small bow to the classic housing industry scapegoats: too much bureaucracy, a.k.a government interference. Too much regulation, a.k.a zoning that does not permit luxury condo high rises everywhere. And too much neighbourhood opposition to just about everything.

It also points to the dilemma of elected governments: the relentless election deadline that drives decision makers to adopt short term subsidy ‘solutions’, rather than programs with a longer view. Elsewhere, we’ve covered stories about how the short term fixes make the problem worse, not better. Try: Four Kinds Of Affordable Housing That Can Work In A Democracy

Moving onward, the Irish Times places a finger on the heart of the problem — the high cost of land. As well, it laments the deep pockets and financial patience of land speculators who have helped to drive up the cost of land beyond the heady days prior to 2008 when Ireland’s economic boom times made it the ‘Celtic Tiger.’

On to a small but interesting nod to what the Irish Times might claim was a brief ‘how to fix’ thought. It certainly caught our attention. Ireland has previously implemented a 3% tax on land held idle by speculators in order to discourage land hoarding. Apparently, it has not been as successful as hoped, as a further ‘fix’ will be to raise the tax rate next year to 7%.

Does taxing idle land reduce the value of that resource and bring down land prices? In a similar taxation move, the City of Vancouver, British Columbia is reporting some success from a plan that has been implemented to tax ‘idle’ homes. Try: City of Vancouver Successfully Puts Idle Homes To Work

As for a national newspaper’s take on a national affordable housing crisis, read more in The Irish Times: The Irish Times view on the housing crisis: how to fix a broken system