Student housing crisis –yet again  

Conchúir Ó Raidaigh writes: As the beginning of a new academic year looms for thousands of Irish students, a now yearly frenzy for accommodation begins. 

Socialist Worker

Student housing crisis –yet again  
pic: Hines Binary Hub in Inner City Dublin

This time however, it’s worse than any year before, just as it was last year, and the year before that.

A chronic shortage of student beds, dire living conditions and record breaking rents are symptoms of the worst housing crisis in the history of the state.

In 2015, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) commissioned a report into student accommodation.

The report found that there was a deficit of 25,000 dedicated student beds, forcing many into the savage private rental market.

It projected that there would be an additional 25-30,000 students in third level by 2024, pointing to a devastating deepening of the crisis.

Since then, little has changed for students.

For many, the search for aplace to stay begins as soon as the Summer break begins, lasting weeks.

Weeks of viewing exorbitantly priced dilapidated dwellings.

This year the average cost of a single academic year in Dublin was estimated at €12,500, almost three times the maximum rate paid by the SUSI maintenance grant.

What the report omits, however is that in some places, up to 15 students are living in four bedroom houses, while others live in sheds and many face long commutes from their colleges.

The situation has become so untenable that there are now a significant number of students commuting to cities by train for three hours and more per day.

Marketfocus

When you look at the Fine Gael government’s plan to tackle the student accommodation

Crisis, as with its plans for the housing crisis as a whole, it focuses almost exclusively on private initiatives, massively incentivising property giants like Hines to enter the Irish market and allowing them to charge as much as they want to future tenants.

And as with the with those wider plans  it provides no solutions, in fact it’s likely to worsen the crisis.

Already, Hines charge €230 per week for their most basic room in Binary Hub, while Ziggurat’s “Montrose Aparto” is marketed at an eye-watering €13,000 per year.

These outrageous prices coupled with the possibility of rising tuition fee and income contingent loans are a terrifying prospect for ordinary students.

Third level education is becoming a preserve of the privileged, either totally out of reach of working class people or too costly in comparison to going directly into employment after school.

One thing is certain, the market offers no solutions.

For students, young people, the homeless or those desperately seeking housing, the only true solutions are those with human need as their focus.

These solutions are our solutions, those of the radical left and it’s our task to bring them forward into an uncompromising movement in our colleges, neighbourhoods and streets.

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