Response to economic crisis: Irish government cutting support of homeownership

A conference on housing in Ireland suggests the Irish government is reversing course and will no longer be supporting homeownership:

STATE SUPPORT for the principle of home ownership is at an end after almost 100 years, a national housing conference has heard.

Encouraging people to buy their homes had been seen by the State as a social good, as well as an economic one, but there was now a definite shift in policy, UCD sociology professor Tony Fahey said.

Tenant purchase schemes were dying out and local authorities were no longer offering loans to private buyers. The policy now is households need to be assisted by the State if they can’t afford to rent, not if they can’t afford to buy.

“It had been an article of faith for almost 100 years that home ownership was a social good and should be supported by the State . . . The historic roll the State played in putting up capital for housing won’t be repeated.”

Americans tend to think we are a nation of homeowners but there are several countries that have higher rates of homeownership. Ireland is one such country:

The highest home ownership is in Romania (96pc), followed by Lithuania (91pc), Hungary (89pc), Slovakia (89pc), Estonia (87pc), Latvia (87pc), Bulgaria (87pc), Norway (85pc), Iceland (84pc), Spain (83pc), Slovenia (81pc), Malta (79pc), Czech Republic (77pc) and Greece (76pc).

Ireland comes in at 73.7pc, while 70pc of people in the UK own their own homes.

Irish home ownership levels have dropped from a high of 79pc in the 1990s to just short of 74pc at the start of this century, according to a new book on the economy, ‘Sins Of The Father’ by Conor McCabe.

Ireland is now facing the consequences of a burst housing bubble in the last few years.

While Ireland is facing their own issues, I wonder if the US government might make a similar shift or at least pull back from supporting homeownership through public policy and government rhetoric. Thus far, it doesn’t look like this has happened much. But, if the mortgage interest deduction disappears and/or younger Americans continued to avoid buying homes, perhaps things could change quite a bit here as well.

However, even if the policies changed, this doesn’t necessarily mean the cultural value of homeownership will change quickly.

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