Census results another reminder that action is needed on housing

The preliminary results from Census 2016 have shown that Ireland’s population has increased 3.7% over the past years.

That represents 169,724 more people living here, taking the country’s population to 4,757,976.

A growing population offers both opportunities and challenges, of course, and while areas such as public infrastructure, transport, education, health and social services all needed to be taken into account, hosing could arguably be deemed one of the most important given the huge shortage of accommodation being reported in our major towns and cities at present.

It has been speculated that Minister for Housing Simon Coveney will unveil plans next week to build 45,000 new homes over the next five years.

However, even if he meets that ambitions target it may not be enough to cater for a population that is expected to grow even further over the same period.

Already the preliminary Census results have shown that the number of houses being built has not kept pace with population growth. It doesn’t help either that there are currently 259,562 vacant properties across the State.

The Government will need to take action on this to prevent the housing crisis becoming a deeper problem than it already is in the years ahead.

Whether that is in the form of a land levy to prevent developers sitting on idle land or the relaxation of the bedsit ban that came into force in 2013, the reality is that peopl need somewhere to live.

With growing property prices both in terms of sales and rentals, that is one dream that is becoming increasingly beyond the reach of many.

It will also hamper the country’s economy potentially, with multi-nationals unlikely to come here if their staff and potential staff cannot find somewhere to live.