Preliminary figures for Census 2016 released today by the CSO underline the need for a new national housing construction programme. The population of the country has grown by close to 170,000 people, but fewer than 19,000 additional homes have been provided – one home for every nine new people.
Levels of vacancy in the Irish housing stock have declined since the last Census in 2011. More than 30,000 vacant homes have been brought back into use over the last five years. While 198,000 dwellings still remain vacant, the highest levels of vacancy are in regions of the country where population growth is static or negative. It is questionable now whether the remaining vacant stock can realistically be brought to bear in making a significant impact in meeting housing need.
With a total addition of 49,000 properties for 170,000 new people, the typical size of newly formed household is 3.5 people. In the country generally, the average household size is 2.8 people. These figures support the belief that overcrowding is now becoming a serious issue for some Irish households. In Dublin City, the population increased by 4.8% while household formation increased by only 1.4%.
Over the past five years Co-operative Housing Ireland has played its part in managing the challenge of vacant housing. The co-operative has, for example:
- taken on the management of unsold local authority affordable housing at estates such as Maple Woods, Midleton, Co. Cork,
- directly commissioned the completion of vacant units at Auburn Lodge, Killiney, Co. Dublin,
- worked with NARPS, the special purpose vehicle of NAMA, to provide housing at Parkton Mews, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.
The available stock of vacant housing, while significant, is not aligned to areas of greatest need as illustrated by population growth. While continuing efforts do need to be made to tackle vacancies, particularly in urban centres, a new housing construction programme is urgently required.
Co-operative Housing Ireland will shortly commence construction on new housing developments at four locations across Dublin City. For the continued delivery, a pipeline of development sites with supporting multi-annual funding is urgently required. The Society has called on the Dail Committee of Housing and Homelessness to address these issues and it is hoped that they will be dealt with in government’s forthcoming Housing Action Plan.
Details of Census 2016 preliminary figures can be found here.