We have to treat housing like a war situation

MARTY MORAN has just experienced the housing crisis first-hand, after being served with an eviction notice. Here he explains how the government need to go about solving the crisis
We have to treat housing like a war situation

The Taoiseach needs to take personal responsibility for housing, says Marty Moran

A FEW weeks ago, President Higgins told us what we already knew. We don’t have a housing ‘crisis’. We have a housing ‘disaster’.

I can relate. The other day, I received my second eviction notice in less than seven months. While I am resourceful and will find a way to survive, many others will not - though it may mean I need to leave Ireland. If that’s the way it works out, so be it. I sense many others will be right behind me.

While President Higgins sounded the alarm bell, Ireland will need to activate all aspects of Irish society to act on his warning.

Fundamentally, this is Ireland’s Pearl Harbor, and addressing the damage that has been done will require nothing short of a war-like response, something akin to the Marshall Plan - the famous American programme that rebuilt Europe after World War II.

The problem boils down to simple mathematics. There is not enough housing for the amount of people living here. There are only two ways to solve this. Increase the amount of housing or decrease the amount of people that require housing. We will need to do both.

I’m a retired engineer, who’s done business in 25 countries, visited 15 others, and has dual citizenship in Ireland and US. The suggestions here to address Ireland’s housing ‘disaster’ are based on what I witnessed during a ‘turnaround’ for a company I once worked for.

In that case, the company was quickly heading for bankruptcy. However, new owners brought in a ‘turnaround’ team that dramatically overhauled every aspect of the company’s operation. Today, it is highly profitable and one of Wall Street’s darlings.

We need to switch to ‘turnaround’ mode.

Initial Leadership - Presenting the Vision

Ireland is in a crisis situation, which requires a crisis response and an appropriate management structure dedicated to solving the crisis. This will be a different management structure than normal.

The government will need to provide the necessary leadership by first admitting we have a problem, honesty in how government got us into this, then laying out the vision of how we are going to solve the problem, while asking for society’s help.

This should be done in a nationally televised address. The Taoiseach should explain we are in an ‘All hands on deck’ situation and business as usual will need to be suspended until the crisis has been adequately addressed. He will clarify that his primary role now will be as Housing Recovery Director, though he would formally retain the title of Taoiseach. The majority of his day would be spent on housing issues.

He would inform us that, other than urgent security matters, most policy issues will be delayed for a later date. He would further explain that for the duration of the crisis, all policy decisions would be viewed through the lens of how it impacts the housing disaster.

If a particular issue doesn’t affect housing negatively, it can go forth. However, even if an issue does negatively affect the situation, it will be given a lower priority and only addressed if there was enough time.

Increase the Housing Supply

There have been many excellent suggestions already to increase housing supply and those won’t be repeated here. However, those won’t be enough.

The Taoiseach would explain we just can’t sit around and wait for housing to be built. Rather, we need to import prefabricated housing manufactured outside Ireland as a ‘shortcut’ in quickly bringing supply online. In fact, he would also engage world-class engineering and construction companies in helping create temporary infrastructure for these homes.

During his presentation, the Taoiseach would also announce a new program whereby citizens could make suggestions in their local area how to increase supply. That could be as simple as notifying authorities what properties were vacant or pointing out construction bottlenecks. These suggestions would be routed electronically to local TDs, who would filter the ideas at their level for relevance. The filtered set of ideas would then be passed onto a national database of ideas and acted upon.

Cap Population Increases

Given the current housing shortfall, it doesn’t make sense to continue allowing non-essential immigration into Ireland since it only exacerbates the problem. This includes Ukrainian refugees. Thus, all non-essential immigration should be halted for a few years until the housing supply starts to catch up.

Obviously, this is not the ideal policy. However, there are times we must be adults and make difficult decisions. Ireland just doesn’t have the capacity to accept significant numbers of new arrivals. 

Unfortunately, we are paying for past housing policy sins committed over many years. 

But we have to get our house in order before we can help others. Nonetheless, there may be other ways to help refugees, such as pure monetary support.

In his new role as Housing Recovery Director, Taoiseach Martin would need to formally approve every immigration exception.


The measures introduced here reflect a ‘wartime footing’ for solving the housing ‘disaster’.

The management structure and focus reflect dealing with this problem and are a departure from normal day to day operation. It will require sacrifice and postponing things we would ordinarily like to do. However, by being honest with ourselves, and focusing laser- like on the problem, we can more quickly bring housing supply in line with demand and return to a more normal life within a few years.

Tomorrow: Marty pinpoints three specific ways to solve the housing crisis

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