Housing in Ireland can be a difficult process for many, specifically for those seeking tenancies in the private rented sector. In Ireland, an estimated 63% of all rented housing is occupied by those aged between 18-34. Coinciding with this is a worrying upward trend in youth homelessness, with Focus Ireland estimating a 78% increase in homelessness of those aged between 18-24.
This paints a stark picture of the challenges young people face in finding and accessing housing which is accessible for young people and sustaining their tenure to have a secure home. Alongside this, young people also face challenges in accessing housing while they pursue their studies. With rents in Dublin, Galway and Cork rising by 12.3%, 16% & 6.8% respectively, an increasing generation of young people are locked out from accessing education to be able to pursue further education.
There is, however, a potential solution to the crisis. Housing Co-operatives. This model has been finding incredible success in the UK, where young people have come together to address the housing crisis through the development of housing co-operatives that, in line with the co-operative ethos, seek to afford young people the chance to reclaim their ability to look after their own housing needs. In many cities where co-operatives exist, we can see that living in a housing co-operative can lead to savings of up to 30% when compared with private rental market costs.
Such savings, alongside the development of a more socially conscious vision of social housing provision, enables young people to take back their agency and to develop co-operatives that view society through a more democratic lens, based on the principles of solidarity and self-help.
A myriad of challenges face young people starting out, but housing is a problem we can fix. Given the challenges currently facing the private rental market, alongside those of accessing secure housing while starting out in one’s career or studying, young people in Ireland should explore how the co-operative movement – a sustainable model of housing provision.
The development of such a movement in Ireland may be what is necessary for young people to begin to access housing that is sustainable and affordable, thus offering young people the opportunity to grow up.