Social housing regeneration, health and public action in Dublin

On May 19 2022, Lidia K.C. Manzo - principal investigator for the #cityofcare project - gave a presentation on the effect of social exclusion in the Liberties Dublin Oliver Bond community with reference to health in social housing for the 2022 Conference of Irish Geographers in Limerick, Ireland.

The evidence on the relationship between housing and health is complex but compelling. Substandard housing conditions such as water leaks, poor ventilation, pest infestation, exposure to high or low temperatures and overcrowding, have been associated with poor health outcomes, most notably those related to respiratory infections, adverse cardiovascular events and psychological distress, which the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified.

Drawing on extended ethnography, this paper focuses on forms of local activism, community-led interventions and public actions to lobby policy makers to remain committed to support a “fair regeneration” of a social housing “flats” estate within a gentrifying inner-city Dublin neighborhood.

On the grounds that housing is an essential contributor to good health, now is the time for a joint public housing and public health agenda to create healthier homes by confronting the everyday impact of inadequate housing to tackle social inequalities more broadly, as the quote in the title made by a research participant clearly epitomizes: "It's not about the complaints anymore now, it's about our living conditions, and health, and our wellbeing, and our mental health".

We demonstrate how these community initiatives and networks have developed schemes for self-help and created strategies of survival, producing the conditions to be the main channels for making the voices of vulnerable urban residents heard. However, we also show how these networks are being threatened due to gentrification, regeneration and displacement pressures.