Darragh O’Brien has been Ireland’s Housing Minister since June of 2020. It is a tough brief – how does one solve for such a complex set of problems? The Minister is responsible for homelessness, families who can’t make rent, families unable to afford to buy a home, the number of units being commenced… the mind boggles.

Of course, everyone has a good idea. Everyone feels it should be done this way – not that. Some people want more state involvement. Some want less. Some say it should be a private solution (not many any more say solely private) and some say the state must step in and build, build, build.

Ideology – left, right, private, public – all these things are there – all the time. Housing is a political football and really, the pressure to be performant before the next election must be ever present.

I believe that this crisis – as most everyone does, I’m sure – will outlast this government and the next. What’s a housing minister to do? Good question. What can a minister actually do?

Temporary measures. emergency measures. Long term initiatives. Stimulate construction. Watch rents.

There have been some big-ticket ideas, too. The shared equity scheme, for example. It has been rubber-stamped by the Central Bank today, as it happens. With the warning that it could be inflationary in the short term. It remains to be seen how it works out but everyone, I think, hopes it has the desired impact. (One word of caution: watch the regional caps – the cost of construction is high everywhere right now.)

Personally, I believe that breaking up equity is the key to disrupting how mortgages are done as well as the pressure on people when trying to meet one of humanity’s basic needs – but in a digital fashion with lots of new technologies involved and a very exotic concept called tokenisation. But that’s for another time, far along in the development of Homebuyer’s Hero.

Today is about a Proptech Investment Fund. Today, I have written to the minister to call on him to have such a fund established without delay. This is something a minister can do – especially one willing to look outside the box.

It might even be cost neutral. Or give a return. How? Well, much like a VC fund sometimes relies on one or two stellar investments to carry the weight of the full fund return, so to can Irish society expect that a small number of tech startups which would receive investment from such a fund would actually succeed in making a dent in the crisis. Those which do succeed in this manner will bring their solution to a global audience and therefore, bring a return to Ireland inc. Likely a big return. A return to pay off the initial investment and then some.

So I say, lets take a crack at solving our housing crisis for free. Certainly, as compared to calls for the establishment of a state-run construction company, this is small potatoes. So what’s the hold up? Let’s put innovation to work on the housing crisis. Read more here and here on why I feel its needed.

Read my letter to the Minister, sent today by email. Show support for this by liking, sharing and following Homebuyer’s Hero.

Colm Casey

I am what happens when someone with a deep interest in and fascination with technology spends quite a considerable amount of time working in the property industry.

I also love to talk so feel free to hit me up on social media.

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