Local TD Jennifer Whitmore has criticised the Government for a housing policy which is not delivering homeownership for young people across Wicklow. This follows the publication of a report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), which has found Ireland has one of the biggest gaps in homeownership between younger and older people in Western Europe. The report found that less than one-third of people under 40 in Ireland own their own home, compared to almost 80% of people over 40 years old. This is one of the biggest gaps in homeownership between younger and older people in Western Europe.
Deputy Whitmore said:
Today’s report is a damning commentary on the way governments are allowing a generation of young people to languish without affordable housing. When I talk to people in County Wicklow, I find two main groups of people. There are those people who already own their own homes and those who are struggling to buy or rent. And, even amongst homeowners, they are worried about their children. They are worried about where their children will live and whether they can afford to live near them or if they will end up emigrating.
“A common theme emerges when speaking to people living back home with their parents. They are not homeless, but they are feeling very hopeless. This Government is draining the hope out of young people. It is draining the optimism for the future. In County Wicklow, a single person would need a salary of €99,000, and a deposit of €38,000 on top of that, to be able to afford their own home.
“I was listening to Arklow teacher Aoife Ní Chéileachair on Pat Kenny’s show this week. She was talking about the reality of being stuck in housing limbo and not being able to. Having rented for seven years, she was evicted, despite being employed as a teacher, and she has had to move back in with her parents. She rightly points out that the supports on the table for first-time buyers are only there for new builds, which many people buying alone will not be able to afford. Unfortunately, Aoife’s story is not unusual and is indicative of so many stories I have heard from constituents of mine. Far too often, the last option left to young people is to move back in with family and two or three generations living in the same home while they desperately try to save for a deposit on a house. There has never been a tougher market for housing in Ireland, and the collateral damage of government policy is that we are robbing a generation of young people of the ability to start their lives.
“This has been a major issue for people in Wicklow for a number of years now. In the last election, I spoke to many voters who were either moving home to their partners or getting ready to have their adult children move back in. It has put a huge strain on many families.
Whitmore concludes, “Government must reassess its approach to housing policy in order to bridge the gap in homeownership for people under 40. Being able to buy an affordable home in the community in which you grew up, near to your support networks, should not be out of reach for so many people.