Breaching the Limits of Owner Occupation? Supporting Low-Income Buyers in the Inflated Irish Housing Market1
The Republic of Ireland broadly has relatively high rates of home ownership compared to the rest of western Europe, which are related to the longstanding, broadly targeted state subsidization of home purchase provided as part of an implicit tradition of asset-based welfare. During the 1980s, however, several of these generalist subsidies were abolished and the remainder reoriented towards enabling low income households to purchase a home, while the last ten years have seen unprecedented house price inflation. This article, which examines the operation of these low income home buyers' supports in five case study areas, reaches largely negative conclusions about their efficacy in the current housing market context. Despite efforts to increase transactions by introducing new schemes of this type, levels of use have remained static since the early 1990s. These measures have failed to stem the recent fall in the proportion of Irish households that own their homes. More seriously, widespread arrears on mortgages held by scheme participants casts doubts on the sustainability of the home ownership they facilitate. Thus, the Irish case demonstrates that even when heavily subsidized home ownership does have structural limits and highlights the problems associated with attempting to breech these limits by lifting low-income households into this tenure.
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Volume (Year): 7 (2007)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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