Social Housing in the Irish Housing Market

Dorothy Watson, Eoin Corrigan

Abstract


This paper traces the evolution of social supports for housing since 2004, including local authority (LA) housing, housing provided by Approved Housing Bodies (AHB) and support for renting in the private sector through schemes administered by the local government sector (Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)) and the Rent Supplement scheme operated by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Given the increased use of the private sector to provide housing for low-income households, the paper draws on SILC data to examine changes between 2004 and 2015 in the quality of housing in different sectors, as measured by problems such as dampness, lack of central heating, lack of double glazing, insufficient light and noise. The analysis finds that the overall percentage of housing that is socially supported increased during the recession to 17 per cent from 13 per cent in the boom years (2004-2007, mainly via increased use of Rent Supplement) but dropped back towards pre-recession levels by 2015 (about 15 per cent). The use of the private sector as a source of socially-supported housing rose from 28 per cent in the boom years to 42 per cent during the recession before dropping back to 33 per cent by 2016. Housing quality improved between 2004 and 2015, with a drop from 16 per cent to 9 per cent in the percentage of people living in dwellings with two or more of five quality problems; the improvements were significantly greater for those living in rented than owned/mortgaged dwellings, though rented dwellings remained at a disadvantage in 2015. Improvements in quality in the rented sector were found across the income distribution.

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