Too many three-bed homes and not enough one-beds is one of Ireland’s big housing problems

NOT ENOUGH one-bedroom apartments are one of the biggest problems facing the Irish housing market, said Leo Varadkar.

Defending the government’s record of housing construction today, the Tánaiste said that Ireland did not have enough single dwellings to accommodate a growing number of single young people.

He responded to a question from Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns, who accused successive governments of overseeing a cost of living crisis in Ireland.

“This is not a country for young people,” she told Varadkar.

Cairns cited figures showing that only 27% of first-time buyers were 30 years or younger in the past year.

“Young people in Ireland were given a poisoned goblet,” she said.

“You will be the first generation who are less well off than their parents. This is of course due to stagnating wages and rising housing costs. Property prices have doubled over the past eight years. “

She said wages and opportunities had not recovered from the economic crash over a decade ago.

“The pandemic has exacerbated this disadvantage and disproportionately affected the opportunities, social life and income of young people.

“Why should young people believe in your government?”

Varadkar said his government believes in home ownership and said 70% of the people in Ireland own a home.

“We want this to be a reality for people between the ages of 20 and 30,” he said.

Varadkar targeted the Social Democrats, accusing the party of failing to understand how Irish society has changed.

“It is disappointing to see that so many people, including members of your own party, are resisting building new houses. Especially in Drumcondra, for example, they refuse to build new houses because they are one-bed apartments, ”he said.

Varadkar was referring to controversial plans to build around 1,600 homes on the site of the Holy Cross Seminary in Drumcondra, Dublin.

“You know how many young people are single, don’t you?

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“One of the changes that has taken place in our society is that people tend to start their households later in life, marry later, and be single longer.

“And when you turn against living as one-room apartments, as the Social Democrats often do, the fact that there are so many singles in society today is really misunderstood.

One of our major shortcomings with the housing supply in Ireland is that by and large we are a triple country and we don’t have enough single beds.

He said a help-to-buy program, which critics and some experts say is driving house prices, has helped many young people raise down payments to get a mortgage.

Cairns also said the government’s equity program, a key part of the Housing For All plan launched earlier this year, would create more debt for first-time buyers.

The government, she said, “has a developer-led approach”.

Varadkar replied, “Most of our housing policies are geared towards increasing home ownership in Ireland.

“I think shared equity is one of them. I’ve seen it work in my own constituency. “

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