Dublin's housing boom fuels surge in homelessness

Homeless people begging for money on O'Connell bridge in central Dublin (file photo)

Related Stories

Dublin is undergoing a simultaneous increase in homelessness and a mini property boom. It might seem a contradiction but at the heart of both is Ireland's economic crash of 2008, from which the country is still trying to recover.

Rising homelessness and property prices have been driven by a housing shortage for a young and growing population. Building virtually stopped in Ireland's crash of six years ago, and austerity has meant a slump in state-funded housebuilding as well as social welfare cuts.

The shortage of accommodation has seen Dublin rents rise - meaning investors are now buying up property, driving the mini-boom.

Start Quote

I never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd end up in this situation”

End Quote Lynn Claxton

About 2,700 people are officially homeless in Ireland. The state provides emergency accommodation but some - a minority - end up sleeping on the streets. Charity is a lifeline for many.

The number of people coming through the doors of the Capuchin Day Centre in the centre of Dublin is up six-fold. Volunteers and staff serve free meals to anyone in need.

"Ten years ago it was around 160 meals a day - now it's 600," says one of the chefs. "People have no idea, until they come in here, to see the children coming in here in their school uniforms, they go home with nothing to eat until the next day sometimes.

"But now they are looking after them here and they give them a goody bag going home."

Demonstration outside Dublin City Hall Protesters have called for swift action to be taken on homebuilding
'Closest thing to prison'

Many of these people had never expected to become homeless, says Angela Skuce, a doctor working in the centre.

"A lot of them are entitled to rent allowance as part of their benefits but rents in Dublin have gone up so their rent allowance doesn't pay for that."

Lynn Claxton dines with her four children - a break from their small, single room in emergency accommodation.

"I've never been to Mountjoy Jail but as far as I can see it's the closest thing to prison. The children can't go outside the room and can't play," she says.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd end up in this situation like the other people here. They're normal everyday people that are trying to make ends meet, with nowhere to go - people with children just trying to survive."

'Unprecedented' demand

Many landlords now prefer to take higher cash rents from private tenants, instead of the rent allowance offered by those on benefits.

Another young woman at the table says soaring rents made her family of four recently homeless for the first time, despite being able to offer 950 euros (£760) a month for rent.

But the high rents have been driving a mini property boom with investors flocking to Dublin, says Robert Hoban of Allsop Space auctioneers.

"There's unprecedented demand for suburban family homes, for young couples to buy, to grow families in. Not enough properties have been constructed," he says.

"What's selling very, very well are tenanted commercial properties - almost of any size - anything with income at the moment, there's a lot of interest from investors because they see it as a long-term investment."

Colin Horan Property consultant Colin Horan sees plenty of demand for Dublin property from Russian buyers

Start Quote

We will identify those [unfinished estates] that we can use and have identified a number already. ”

End Quote Jan O'Sullivan Housing Minister

Property prices in Dublin in April were 18% higher than a year ago, according to the Central Statistics Office.

While Irish citizens still make up the majority of buyers, Colin Horan of Extra Sales property consultants says Russian, Chinese, American, British and European investors are also in competition. His firm even has Russian-speaking staff to help buyers from the east.

"There are two different types of Russians buying - one is the very wealthy Russian, then there's average Russians buying second homes here in Ireland as well for investment.

"It is [also] very buoyant from the Chinese perspective. Even the auctions that are happening in Dublin - there are major investors at those and they are bringing the prices up. The type of properties they're buying is like family homes that are from 400,000 euros up to one million," he says.

Ghost estates

Ireland's Housing Minister, Jan O'Sullivan, has unveiled plans to restart some building and restore disused state properties.

Houses in County Dublin These houses in North County Dublin have been sold before they are even finished

But what of Ireland's so-called ghost estates - empty houses from the boom?

Many are in remote areas far from Dublin and its hinterland where about a third of Ireland's population live, so the empty houses remain far from the people needing a roof over their heads. Ms O'Sullivan says there is no easy match.

"There is an element of a solution in those unfinished estates but the quantity really is not huge. But we will identify those that we can use and have identified a number already.

"They are part of the solution but some of them are in places where there isn't a housing demand so they are not suitable in some cases for social housing. But there are others in the greater Dublin area and around our cities that will be suitable," she says.

Homeless capital of Europe?

Meanwhile, the homeless have taken to Dublin's streets to protest against their plight, which has hit the headlines here.

Demonstration outside Dublin City Hall Many have been seeking to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless

Jesuit priest Father Peter McVerry, who has been a champion of Dublin's homeless, says it is the worst housing crisis in his 40 years working with the city's poorest - but he fears greater disaster ahead.

"We need urgently to get back to building social housing. That's expensive but if we don't do it, we are going to have a city here full of homeless people and homeless families living on the street.

"We've 100,000 households on the social housing waiting list. Five thousand social houses every year would cost one billion euros - we don't have one billion euros to spend on housing over the next 20 years. The failure to do that will make us the homeless capital of Europe," he warns.

Ireland has been praised by its international lenders for following the course of austerity medicine. But for those without a place to live, there is little feeling of economic recovery.

For more on this story, listen to Diarmaid Fleming's report on the The World Tonight on BBC Radio Four.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories

RSS

Business Live

  1.  
    15:02: Warren Buffett

    Mr Buffet (third on the Forbes rich list, by the way) has a few digs at investment bankers and other "advisers". Explaining why his conglomerate is good at picking and choosing new companies to buy, he says: "Institutional investors face major costs as they move capital because they usually need intermediaries to do this job. A lot of mouths with expensive tastes then clamour to be fed - among them investment bankers, accountants, consultants, lawyers and such capital-reallocators as leveraged buyout operators. Money-shufflers don't come cheap."

     
  2.  
    14:53: Forbes rich list

    Forbes makes the interesting point about the mega-rich in its list that: "Fully 1,191 members of the list are self-made billionaires, while just 230 inherited their wealth. Another 405 inherited at least a portion but are still working to increase their fortunes."

     
  3.  
    14:47: Wi-fi news
     Hewlett-Packard (HP) stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

    The computer firm Hewlett-Packard says it will buy the wi-fi equipment manufacturer Aruba Networks for $2.7bn - in cash. Aruba makes equipment for wi-fi networks such as routers and switches, and the software for them.

     
  4.  
    14:20: Warren Buffett

    If you are interested in the thoughts of Warren Buffet, often described as the world's most successful investor, you can read his annual letter to shareholders in his conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway. I will pick out some of the most interesting points for you.

     
  5.  
    13:59: Ikea
    Ikea

    Ikea, that marvellous Swedish furniture retailer, has unveiled a range of furniture fitted with wireless charging spots for mobile devices. The BBC's Zoe Kleinman reports that the Home Smart range will initially include lamps, bedside tables and a coffee table as well as individual charging pads for any surface. Ikea has used the wireless charging standard QI, which is also supported by Samsung in its latest handset, the S6.

     
  6.  
    13:47: Forbes rich list
    Bill Gates

    The US business magazine Forbes has published its annual rich list. This year it has counted 1,826 billionaires. Their collective wealth has, apparently, shot up from $6.4 trillion to $7.05 trillion. Bill Gates who co-founded Microsoft tops the list once more.

     
  7.  
    13:35: Good afternoon Ian Pollock Business reporter, BBC News

    Thanks to Howard and Chris for this morning's work, getting up very early so you don't have to. I'm here till six.

     
  8.  
    13:30: Warren Buffett
    Warren buffett

    Please sir, can I have some more growth? No you many not, says Warren Buffett. He told business channel CNBC today that investors should not be disappointed with 2% economic growth a year, adding that the US has a "terrific economy".

     
  9.  
    13:14: Market update
    Nasdaq

    The US technology-focused Nasdaq index closed last week at 4,963.53, closing in on 5,000. "Certainly, the Nasdaq at 5,000 conjures up images of a tech bubble," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank. "But we've had time for business profits to grow into those crazy expectations 15 years ago."

     
  10.  
    12:55: Germany vs Greece, part 675...
    Alexis Tsipras

    German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble's spokesman has put the knife into Greek PM Alexis Tsipras for accusing eurozone partners including Spain and Portugal of undermining his negotiations with Brussels. "I can only say that according to European standards that was a very unusual foul," spokesman Martin Jaeger said on Monday. "We don't do that in the Eurogroup. It is not the done thing."

     
  11.  
    12:40: Markets update
    Tullow rig

    The FTSE is down 16 points, or 0.2%, at 6,930 in lunchtime trading.

    • Not a great Monday for Tullow Oil, whose shares are down 7% after updating the market on a dispute over the maritime border between Ghana and Ivory Coast that has affected exploration in the area.
    • Top riser of the day is Intertek, up 3.6% to £26.21 per share.
     
  12.  
    12:25: Mikhail Fridman

    Mikhail Fridman's investment company, LetterOne, has written a stern letter to energy secretary Ed Davey following his department's decision to block the sale of 12 North Sea oil fields to the Russian oligarch. Jonathan Muir, chief executive of LetterOne, says the company will seek a judicial review of the decision. "We very much hope that DECC will reconsider its position," he adds in the letter obtained by the FT.

     
  13.  
    China's Oprah Via Twitter Linda Yueh Chief business correspondent
    BBC

    tweets: My interview w Yang Lan, China's Oprah, at GREAT festival Shanghai. Prince William here too. Listen tomorrow #r4today

     
  14.  
    11:55: Semiconductor merger
    nxp

    You might not have heard of NXP Semiconductors before, and frankly neither had we, but the Dutch chip maker has announced a deal to buy its smaller rival Freescale Semiconductor for $11.8bn (£7.6bn). The combined NXP/Freescale will be the biggest automotive and industrial semiconductor manufacturer and be worth more than $40bn (£26bn).

     
  15.  
    11:40: China purchasing

    Manufacturing activity in China improved in February for the first time in four months, but export demand weakened. HSBC's manufacturing index, based on a survey of factory purchasing managers, rose to 50.7 from January's 49.7. It uses a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show activity increasing.

     
  16.  
    11:25: Dilbert

    Today's Dilbert is also an exposition of Goodhart's law (that when a measure becomes a target, it is no longer a worthwhile measure). So while you read it, you'll be technically working, which is a good excuse if you get caught reading comics at work.

     
  17.  
    11:10: Xiaomi camera
    Xiaomi

    Tweet picture of the day courtesy of TechCrunch, which reports that Xiaomi has introduced a bargain GoPro-style action camera that can be strapped to almost anything - even a cat...

     
  18.  
    10:54: Eurozone inflation

    Eurostat also said that consumer prices in the eurozone fell by 0.3% in February, compared with the same month last year, following a 0.6% fall in January. Economists had expected a 0.4% slide. Excluding the cost of energy and unprocessed food, prices rose by 0.6% year-on-year.

     
  19.  
    10:44: Eurozone unemployment

    Eurozone unemployment continued to fall in January, hitting its lowest level since April 2012 as the economy gained momentum. The jobless rate fell to 11.2% from 11.3% in December, with the number of people out of work down by 140,000 to just over 18m.

     
  20.  
    Mobile World Congress Via Twitter

    Nic Fildes, technology and communications editor of The Times, tweets from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona:

    Of all the clunky telecoms buzzwords, "softwarization" is the worst. It sounds like a defunct rave act

    @NicFildes

     
  21.  
    10:13: Mortgage lending
    house building

    The number of loan approvals for house purchases fell to 60,786 in January, compared to an average of 61,666 over the previous six months, the Bank of England said today. The number of approvals for remortgaging was also down, to 31,640, compared with an average of 32,044 over the previous six months.

     
  22.  
    10:00: New coin
    coin

    Here's that new portrait of the Queen for sterling coins. It's only the fifth coin portrait of the Queen in her 63 years on the throne and the first since 1998. New coins bearing the image will now be struck, according to the Royal Mint.

     
  23.  
    Mobile World Congress Via Twitter

    BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones tweets:

    Rory Cellan-Jones

    I think it's fair to say that Sony Eye Glass is a work in progress

    @ruskin147

     
  24.  
    09:42: North Sea gas deal BBC World News
    North sea oil rig

    Following the government decision to block the sale of 12 oil and gas fields in the North Sea to Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman, Daragh McDowell, an analyst at risk analytics firm Verisk Maplecroft tells BBC World Business Report: "To allow Russian investment in North Sea offshore oil would definitely run counter to the spirit, if not the letter, of existing sanctions."

     
  25.  
    Globalisation Via Twitter
    Factory workers in Sri Lanka

    Duncan Weldon, Newsnight economics correspondent, asks whether globalisation is slowing down.

     
  26.  
    09:12: Brand new
    chocolate

    Marks & Spencer, Cadbury and Heinz have all taken a dip in consumers' affections, according to the annual Consumer Superbrands survey. British Airways topped the survey, while messing with the Creme Egg hurt Cadbury. What say you, readers? Which brands do you love - or love to hate? bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

     
  27.  
    08:57: Pension charges
    Steve Webb

    Pensions minister Steve Webb is worried that the "dark corners" of the investment and pensions industry are hiding some "nasty surprises". As a result, the Financial Conduct Authority and Department for Work and Pensions have called on the industry to help draft new rules on how the cost of workplace pension schemes should be reported to savers. "We have a duty to throw light for the first time on potential hidden charges - and restore faith and fairness in British pensions," Mr Webb says.

     
  28.  
    Mobile World Congress Via Twitter
    Lumia phones

    Leo Kelion, technology desk editor of BBC news website, tweets: #Sony and #Microsoft have new phones at #MWC - but they're not flagships - here's why

     
  29.  
    08:28: Newspaper review
    paper

    The FT reports that Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman will fight to buy those North Sea gas assets. The Wall Street Journal analyses the complex relationship between mobile operators and social networks and whether they should defriend each other. The Times takes a look at more companies coming forward to tackle RBS's Global Restructuring Group (GRG) and its alleged habit of putting them to the wall. RBS says a legal inquiry found no evidence it "set out to artificially distress otherwise viable businesses", The Times reports.

     
  30.  
    08:13: Watch out
    watch

    Technology fans will be watching the Mobile World Congress, which kicks off in Barcelona today, for the latest gadgets. Manufacturers seem determined to get us to buy a smartwatch. Apple and its rivals such as Samsung are trying to make the things prettier and more useful, AFP reports, having interviewed various analysts. Will you be tempted?

     
  31.  
    07:59: Trinity Mirror
    Mirror.co.uk

    Trinity Mirror will start paying a dividend for the first time since 2008 - of 3p a share - as pre-tax profits rose 1% to £102.3m for 2014, the Daily Mirror publisher said. However, print advertising revenue fell 14.1% in the second half of the year as supermarkets cut their spending.

     
  32.  
    07:45: Thorntons
    choc

    A "mixed performance" from Thorntons, chief executive Jonathan Hart tells investors. International sales rose by 19.9% to £5.4m in the first half of the company's financial year, but UK commercial sales melted away by 12.4% to £54.7m. Sounds more like a pick 'n' mixed bag to us...

     
  33.  
    07:32: Nationwide house prices
    For sale sign

    House prices fell by 0.1% in February, according to Nationwide - the first decline in five months, since September. That brought the annual rate of price rises to 5.7% compared with 6.8% in January - a sharper than expected slowdown.

     
  34.  
    07:16: Lib Dems Norman Smith Assistant political editor, BBC News
    Lib Dems

    The Liberal Democrats announce the first of many proposed tax rises today as part of their vow to pay off the deficit by 2018 by increasing the tax take rather than cutting spending further. Norman Smith tells Radio 4's Today programme that banks would have all the cuts in corporation tax since 2010 wiped out in a move that would generate about £1bn for the public purse. However, the Lib Dems still need to raise a further £7bn or so to make their sums add up, he adds.

     
  35.  
    07:02: Buffett letter
    bricks

    A quick reminder of what Mr Buffett's company owns. Among other businesses, Berkshire Hathaway owns about half of Heinz, engine oil firm Lubrizol, clothing maker Fruit of the Loom, the pleasingly named Acme Brick company and private plane operator NetJets. He also owns stakes in Mars, Coca Cola and American Express.

     
  36.  
    06:50: Bank shares BBC Radio 4

    David Cumming, head of equities at Standard Life, tells presenter Simon Jack on Today there is a "lot of noise" around banking stocks given the regulatory pressure the sector is now under, meaning they have a "higher than average risk profile". He also thinks the FTSE 100 will crack the 7,000 mark in the next few weeks as the economy continues to improve.

     
  37.  
    06:37: East Coast trains Radio 5 live
    train

    The East Coast rail route between London and Scotland has returned to private hands after more than five years in the public sector. David Horne of Virgin Trains East Coast is on 5 live. He says Virgin has done a good job with the West Coast line. National Express took over the line during a recession, so starting a franchise now should work better for Virgin, Horne adds.

     
  38.  
    06:24: Market update

    China's decision to cut interest rates over the weekend - the second reduction in four months - in a bid to ward off deflation has boosted stock markets in Asia today, with Sydney up 0.5% as mining companies bounced higher, while the Nikkei in Tokyo and the Shanghai Composite were both 0.3% higher.

     
  39.  
    06:11: Buffett letter Radio 5 live
    warren

    Sue Noffke, fund manager at asset manager Schroders, is 5 live's markets guest. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett sent his annual letter to shareholders on Saturday, summing up his 50 years building one of the planet's biggest companies. Because he behaves more like an owner than an investor, "he has had a longer-term investment horizon" than other investors, says Ms Noffke.

     
  40.  
    06:02: Software security Radio 5 live

    Online security firm AVG's chief executive Gary Kovacs is on 5 live speaking from Barcelona's Mobile World Congress tech show about security breaches. The internet has "only been around for 20 years," so securing the place is now a priority, he says. A podcast is now on the website.

     
  41.  
    06:01: Chris Johnston Business reporter

    Good morning! Get in touch via email bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or on Twitter @BBCBusiness

     
  42.  
    06:00: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Good morning everyone. Welcome to Monday. The UK government has said it will block the sale of 12 North Sea oil and gas fields to Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman after concerns about the effect of "possible future sanctions". Stay tuned for more of the best business news.

     

Features

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.