The Irish Times view on the Housing Commission report: a call to action for policymakers

The report is correct that emergency action is needed and it outlines a number of vital reforms which must now be considered

The Report of the Housing Commission offers a cogent analysis of the causes, scale and impact of the chronic shortage of homes in Ireland. It makes a series of recommendations, 83 in total, which it believes are the best way to address the problem.

The Commission identifies the lack of a coherent long-term approach – one that acknowledges the fundamental nature of the problem and its long-term consequences for society and the economy – as a significant cause of the problem. The haphazard, sticking-plaster approach adopted to date has proved expensive and ineffective in combating the forces driving the problem both domestically and internationally, it says.

The report says that due in part to this failed approach Ireland now faces a housing deficit of between 212,500 and 256,000 homes based on the 2022 census. Addressing this and providing for a rising population will require meeting annual targets of between 42,000 and 62,000 a year for new home construction for a sustained period. The current target of 33,000 new homes a year is, as has been clear, well below what is required.

Central to its recommendations is a detailed plan for the delivery of the right type of housing in the correct locations, with all the necessary infrastructure to support it. Accepting many of the steps to get there provides challenges for the Government – and for whatever parties are in power after the next general election. It requires new approaches across the board – to planning, construction, the rental market, financing and infrastructure delivery.


There will be general support for the idea that “emergency action” is needed. But implementing the recommendations requires a host of difficult political decisions, many of which would upset vested interests – as well as a determined, long-term implementation plan.

Much of this should be driven, in the Commission’s view, by a new, powerful Housing Delivery Oversight Executive with statutory powers. Already Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has warned that this could be difficult. Yet the current administrative structures have failed to devise a comprehensive strategy where everyone is working towards the same goal.

Will some recommendations be “cherry-picked”, or will be the report lead to a new national plan, on the lines of Sláintecare? Agreement on the latter approach seems unlikely, given the imminence of a general election – and the experience in health is that progress is difficult. But such is the extent of the housing crisis that emergency action is, indeed, what is needed.

Otherwise the system will just continue to trundle on, delivering unsatisfactory outcomes despite the spending of massive resources. The Commission on Housing report is a call to action. Its recommendations need to be heeded.