The conference, in Dublin, also heard that the State needs to directly provide apartments to tackle the crisis.
Lorcan Sirr, a lecturer in housing and urban economics, at Dublin Institute of Technology, issued his warning at the TASC-FEPS annual conference in Croke Park. The conference is focused on the relationship between economic inequality and the housing crisis
“Fewer permanent jobs, and a greater reliance on contract work, coupled with traditional attitudes to mortgage risk in a socio-economic system designed around home ownership, is about to cause a perfect storm in the Irish housing system,” he said.
“We are now seeing the rise of a class of workers who earn too much for state subsidies, but will struggle to ever own their own home. These people — who typically earn between €36,000 and €60,000 per year — are stuck in the middle.
“The fact that Irish households are increasingly smaller, and there are growing levels of marital separation, means that there are less resources to buy homes individually or with family help. By 2020, in the region of 60% of households in Dublin will be comprised of one or two people.”
Mr Sirr added: “Without state intervention to create affordability and a reappraisal of mortgage risk, access to housing through the private rental sector, traditional home ownership, and the local authorities will worsen.”
Former Dublin lord mayor, Cllr Andrew Montague, echoed those sentiments, telling 100 delegates that the State needs to build apartments to provide homes for single and younger people, where demand is greatest in the housing market.
“The latest census shows that about two-thirds of homes needed in Ireland are for single people, or couples without children, so apartments in our towns and cities are required to meet this demand. But building apartments is a major challenge, with projects often taking years to complete.”
Cllr Montague said that an additional inhibiting factor in building apartments is that there is political resistance to student accommodation, and housing for single people, from many existing home-owners, and the latter vote in large numbers.
“What is needed is a state response to the problem. We need to see the creation of a semi-state company to build high-quality apartments to rent in the right locations in our towns and cities.”
He said that the increased supply would reduce market rents and the profits could be ploughed back into new housing development.