Students - Has the Housing Emergency impacted on your voting preferences?

Tessa Ndjonkou asked UCD students if their political views and electoral preferences had been impacted by the effect of the housing crisis on their college experience.

In November 2022, the Government approved a new policy to aid in building more accommodation for students in public higher education institutions. The Purpose-Built Student Accommodation policy devised by the Department of Further Education and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science under Minister Simon Harris was widely considered to be a step in the right direction to alleviate the housing crisis. Indeed, as it is the first time the State will be providing money to build on-campus accommodation, it is a decision that has caused controversy within the political class. 

At the present time, the UCD Student Union is in active talks to bring such an initiative to UCD. While speaking to the University Observer, President Martha Ní Riada and Welfare Officer Jill Nelis both cite differences across party lines in the approach to this student accommodation crisis: “A lot of parties in Government today see students as teenagers coming straight in after their Leaving Cert, beneficiaries of sustained parental support and who only work if they absolutely have to”. On the contrary, “non-Government parties were more receptive to the suggestion that students have extremely variable experiences”. 

When confronted with the matter of landlord and tenant coercive sex-for-rent practices, Ní Riadia cited a “clearer understanding of the necessity for a power balance between homeowner and tenant in non-government parties” and Nelis recounts an “unfounded belief in Government that the avenues to help students are simple to access”. 

Two Irish UCD graduates who have chosen to remain anonymous reveal the impact the current housing crisis has had on their voting preferences in contrast to other areas such as climate policy, health or transport. (Source 1) admits to having briefly considered voting for the Green Party or smaller parties such as People Before Profit as they felt that “neither Fine Gael or Fianna Fail had made any significant improvements to the housing situation during their term”. 

(Source 2) reveals that they feel “more comfortable voting for parties like Fine Gael and Fianna Fail that are familiar with the [housing] situation as they have seen it deteriorate in real time”. They went on to say: “I wouldn’t distinguish the housing crisis from other issues if I were to vote, I would try to pay attention to all issues equally so as not to neglect any areas. Housing may be the most urgent issue currently but other areas also require our care and attention”. When asked about the weight housing holds in their political decisions, (Source 2) admits they would “like to see a new political balance going on”. “Homelessness and the housing crisis are at the forefront of social issues of Ireland right now and we need people to take control of this.” 

Although, it is not clear the extent to which political alignments have been recalibrated as a result of the rampant housing crisis, what does remain clear is that students across political lines are feeling the strain of this crisis and are unsure now more than ever about where to turn to for answers or solutions. 

Are you a student eligible to vote in Ireland? What do you think of the different solutions offered by Government and opposition parties to curtail the effects of the student accommodation crisis? Do you think a coalition between parties could help alleviate the strain of the crisis on the everyman? What do you think parties could do to be more in touch with its young voter pool? Let us know at