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Barry Andrews: Championing Solutions for Dublin's Housing Crisis


Barry is dedicated to addressing one of Ireland's most pressing challenges – the housing crisis. With a vision rooted in compassion and a commitment to sustainable solutions, Barry is steadfast in his mission to reduce homelessness, alleviate the strain on emergency accommodation, and pave the way for more affordable housing options for all Dubliners.

European policy options that could boost the affordability of housing in Ireland

In July 2023, Barry published a comprehensive paper on housing in Ireland.  The paper, entitled ‘Delivering on Housing in Ireland: A European Policy Perspective’ identifies 11 problems facing the Irish housing sector which are currently barriers to progress. It outlines 19 policy options, inspired by other European states, as well as EU-level interventions for tackling these problems.  
Although housing is not an exclusive competence of the European Union, the EU remains relevant from a regulatory and fiscal perspective, as well as being a considerable provider of finance. Moreover, housing ranks in the top two policy areas where Irish citizens would like to see more of a role for the EU.
The paper finds that other Member States have better leveraged their membership of the EU to facilitate investment in housing, through securing access to financing or designing workarounds for EU rules on public expenditure.   
Speaking at the launch of the report, Barry said:  “Although action at EU level is no silver bullet, and some of the issues with our housing sector are specific to Ireland, it’s clear that there is a need for a more concerted EU strategy by the Irish Government to ensure that we possess the right regulatory environment for investing in housing”. 
Over the past year, the European Commission has imposed delays on the roll-out of the Government’s Croí Cónaithe scheme and legislation to regulate short-term rentals. In addition, the EU’s stringent rules on public debt and deficit have led to an over-reliance on the private sector for delivering Ireland’s housing targets.  
The paper highlights that since 2018, spending by Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) counts as public expenditure under EU fiscal rules. In peer countries referred to in the report, AHBs are almost completely self-financing.  
As interest rates rise, and returns on investment are less attractive, relying on the private sector to deliver our housing targets is risky. Ireland needs workarounds to EU fiscal rules to facilitate additional public investment in housing. Ahead of Ireland’s presidency of the Council in 2026, we should push for a modification to these rules at EU level in addition to state-aid exemptions for crises. This would benefit citizens all across EU who cannot fulfil their housing needs. 
According to the paper, one of the core issues inhibiting progress on housing delivery in Ireland is a lack of diversity of funding to provide social and affordable housing. 
Other Member States are more ambitious when it comes to obtaining EU funding, such as Invest EU and Horizon Europe. We need to ensure that any funding we do receive is leveraged to tackle the housing crisis. 
We need to work more closely with other EU Member States to tackle common issues and share best practices. Inspired by our neighbours, this paper presents 19 different policy tools which could work in the Irish context, such as enabling local authorities to borrow funds, revising tenant purchase scheme to replenish the social housing stock, and leveraging private savings for off-balance investment in housing. 

Download the Delivering on Housing in Ireland PDF Document

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