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Is this what we’ve come to? The Dublin City Council Affordable Housing Lottery. November 30, 2006

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Housing, Irish Politics, Social Policy.
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Wednesday has an interesting and informative post on the Affordable Housing Scheme promoted by Dublin City Council which points up the absurdities of the current situation.

As it happened I was in the office of a friend of mine yesterday and she had a form for the Affordable Housing lottery. Although I knew of the lottery I hadn’t appreciated what it meant in practice. Well I was soon disabused of that lack of knowledge.

She had the forms, statements validating salary and assorted legalistic stuff. And she was genuinely excited about the prospect of entering it. The brochure issued by the Council was impressively printed, full colour photographs of our current slightly fussy modernist apartment blocks from a wide variety of locations across Dublin city. Yet the telling aspect was the quantities available as against those entering the lottery. 800 here for 24 apartments there, 900 there for 16 apartments here. These aren’t great odds, in fact they’re terrible. Effectively we can expect approximately one in every 56 or so applicants to be successful.

Now, I know rationally that this may well be a means of doing this, given the limited supply, but really can there be anything more irritating to those engaged in this process than a lottery? Is that what they mean when they say we’re all consumers and customers now? Where does it end? Scratch cards from newsagents?

I purchased my house through the Shared Ownership Scheme in 1999. It so happened the salaries at chez WorldbyStorm were sufficiently impoverished to permit acceptance to the scheme. Despite the hassle subsequently with electrics, plastering, carpets etc it exists, and I readily appreciate the good fortune in that.

Shared Ownership was no picnic. In fact it was an unbelievably depressing process to engage in with no certainty of success at any point along the way. But psychologically wearing as it was, the prospect of success was there – I’d guess that at least 50% of those who engaged in the process finally purchased properties (although I’d be interested to see statistics on this). In the Affordable Housing proces one is hobbled from the beginning. And as Wednesday points out, the real problem is the supply side. Simply put there aren’t enough properties available. Even a 20% allocation for social and affordable properties strikes me as unlikely to make a real bite in the problem – and short of significant government intervention that simply isn’t going to happen.

So what do we do? As someone on the left I find the solution difficult to envision – so I’ll suggest a raft of them. A greater set aside – well to my mind yes, that’s a start. But also perhaps a reconsideration of the role of the state and private sector in this area. I’m not antagonistic to a role for the private sector in this area – but part of the problem appears to be that the private sector dominates the nature of the debate and the production process. This seems to me to be a case where regulation is necessary – and perhaps the adjustment of social policy back towards production for the state to be purchased by incoming tenants. I’m entirely comfortable with the Council being my mortgage provider. Indeed I prefer it that way for my own ideological reasons.

On a slight tangent, I’m not too worried about the nature of ownership, whether it is communal or individual, within associations or not. But I think actual ownership is crucial to engender a positive and – dare I say – responsible approach to properties particularly those facilitated by the state. And that is something the left should, and perhaps is, assimilating.

And also as Wednesday suggests the nature of accommodations should be looked at, but I’d put it slightly differently. Does it make sense to assume that singletons will remain single? Or family sizes will be indeterminately restricted to couples? Or build units with one-bedroom accommodation knowing that the market is more broad based than that? And incidentally, lest the market driven aspect of this be dragged in, I spent five years working for a group of companies that provided amongst other things electrical fittings and lighting to the construction sector. Having trooped through private apartment being built across Dublin in the late 1990s one of the most striking aspects of their construction was the remarkable lack of differentiation between supposedly ‘luxury’ and supposedly ‘standard’ apartments in term of size, internal layout and so on. An interesting market which promotes a grim homogeneity of product and then lauds minor difference as ‘luxury’. The reality is that other than the high end of the market these products are far too similar and far too limited and inflexible.

On a broader point one of the more interesting aspects of this is whether the nature of urban living in Ireland will shift towards the European model of high density accommodation rather than estate living. So far there’s precious little evidence of the former and rather too much of the latter.

But as to the present am I alone in finding the concept of a lottery somehow a ‘dumbing-down’ of the process and an insult to both the intelligence and entirely reasonable expectations of those who seek a place of their own in this city?

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1. JC Skinner - November 30, 2006

One in 56 is still better odds than doing the Euromillions, which is what those of us caught in that wide belt between property speculator and those who qualify for affordable housing have to do in order to afford to buy in Dublin these days.
I’m still dubious about some of these schemes. Too many times I’ve seen councillors obtain wonderful gaffs through them, while at the same time the number of homeless children in the capital gets ever higher.

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2. Wednesday - November 30, 2006

Do you know that under the Shared Ownership Scheme there’s a limit to the price of the property you can purchase? I believe in Dublin City at the moment that limit is around €250,000. What can you buy for €250,000 in Dublin City? It’s a joke.

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3. WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2006

The level here in Dublin is far too low. Yes, properties can be purchased, but usually they are entirely decrepit. It’s an abysmal situation, although I actually think the Shared Ownership scheme as a model for provision of housing is a good one…

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4. Red Mum - December 1, 2006

I am going to write about this myself,I put in for it too. Here’s some facts

The cheapest place was €240k. One mortgage place only offered me €210k, the repayments were between €1000 to €1200 a month.

A friend was recently buying a €450k house and her repayments were approximately €1000 a month. Something isn’t adding up there at all. And it is not like the shared ownership where you are paying over the odds but you then go to a bank after some years and have them take over the mortgage and your repayments should drop.

The monthly repayments are not affordable in the affordable housing scheme. it is a joke and I seriously despair of never being able to get my own home in Dublin.

Mmm affordable my arse.

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5. Red Mum - December 1, 2006

I should have said the cheapest place that suited me, ie two bedrooms and within some reasonable distance of my daughters school.

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6. Ryano - December 1, 2006

The Shared Ownership scheme is effectively dead in Dublin, as the threshold hasn’t been increased to take account of the rising average house price. Theoretically there are still places available in Dublin under this threshold, but in practice if they were serious about maintaining the scheme the maximum price would have been increased in line with house price inflation years ago.

It seems that Dublin City Council’s current housing policy is entirely based on the provision of social and affordable units in new developments under the Part V scheme, the idea being that as more units become available, the odds in the lottery shorten to approach 1/1. Although I think the 20% scheme is a good one, we have yet to see it make a real impact in terms of availability, so I would think it’s a bit early to be putting all of the eggs in that basket.

As for Red Mum’s friend having repayments of €1,000 on a €450k house, that certainly doesn’t add up, unless she was able to put up half the principal herself, or she’s managed to negotiate a mortgage term which ends some time in the 22nd century. At present €1,000 would represent the repayments on a mortgage of about €200k over 25-30 years.

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7. WorldbyStorm - December 1, 2006

I’m still wondering if there is any solid info on the takeup of Shared Ownership though Ryano. Red Mum, that’s dismal.

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8. redmum - December 1, 2006

Actually you are right in a way Ryano I was forgetting that my pal was released equity on an apartment she had bought five years ago and she had a 30k deposit from her partner.

So the fact she has already had an apartment gives her brownie points. BUT she was not using what she released on her apartment, only a small portion of it. She was keeping a significant amount for the new house. So it still doesn’t add up completely in my eyes. Well not in affordable housing terms at all. It is not affordable.

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9. Wednesday - December 3, 2006

Red Mum, what guidelines (if any) did the Council give you about your Net Disposable Income for that property?

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10. Affordable housing and the Irish Times… a new and unusual view… « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - August 5, 2008

[...] all due to significantly lower wages again. Or that such schemes are, and this has been dealt with previously, far from immune to criticism. A society where housing is, through the media, reified but one where [...]

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11. 5 Years ago this month on the Cedar Lounge Revolution: Affordable and Social Housing… « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - November 4, 2011

[...] This might seem like a world away from current issues, but it’s not of course – indeed the idea of a ‘lottery’ for social and affordable housing speaks of just how skewed societal priorities, at least as expressed at state level, actually became. [...]

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