"My role as a support worker at a homeless youth hostel led me to policy because I wanted to make change at a systematic level." Haley Curran, Policy Manager

February 27, 2024

My name is Haley and I’m CHI’s Policy Manager. My role at CHI is to develop our policy positions and represent CHI at external working groups, forums and events. It involves monitoring housing policy and legislation, that could be Housing for All, others, and tracking any changes to other legislation that may affect CHI such as funding, the Affordable Housing act, requests from the Department of Housing, submissions CHI wants to make and so on. I am currently working on coordinating the CLSS paper with the Assets Management and Property Service (AMPS) and Finance teams to gather the correct data and make a case as to why we need additional support to look after this stock. Sometimes policy work can be external, for example, working with the comms team if a new or updated piece of housing policy comes out to state our opinion or support. Other examples would be showcasing the work we’re doing in relation to wider housing trends, our provision of social and affordable housing, and how that adds to and aligns with Housing for All numbers. I like working with different functions and teams across CHI. It means I regularly get to learn about different subject matter in the organisation.

I started my career after a degree in Applied Social Studies and Social Care. I was a support worker in a homeless youth hostel in London for four years. It was rewarding but challenging. My role as a support worker at a homeless youth hostel led me to policy because I wanted to make change at a systematic level. It was a big learning curve and I try and use that experience as motivation for the work I do today. There are people out there that don’t have the privilege, space, or energy, to advocate on behalf of themselves. It’s important not to forget that housing is such a crucial part of living a good life, it’s a human right, and should be accessible to all. I also worked for an international development agency in fundraising and completed a MA in Government, Policy and Politics from Birkbeck, University of London. When I came home, I worked for other NGOs and during the pandemic I got very focused about where I wanted my career to go; I wanted to work in housing policy. I held policy roles in Focus and Tuath which brought me here.

There’s different indicators or measures around the “ideal housing situation” for Ireland. One is having near zero homelessness. There needs to be more housing options available. Family homelessness should not exist here or anywhere. Offer people choice, provide homes that are truly affordable, and not just affordable to two income households.  It difficult to know how housing costs will be brought down as land is finite, and supply chain issues have driven up prices. What housing policy would benefit from would be to a take longer-term, strategic approach, there are a lot of good intentions but not all schemes are thought through and cohesive leading them to become unsustainable. I’d love to see more innovation such as land trusts and co-ops. There’s a culture of home ownership in Ireland and this is perpetuated by the fact that private rental is insecure. The ideal solution comprises choices, not just the binary of social and private homes.  Housing must be seen as a common good and right, we need to think about future generations and safeguarding and sharing those resources.

I’d like to be able to grow CHI to a level where we are confident in our policy positions and we are able to stand over them. I’d like staff across various teams to know about housing policy and our policy positions, making sure they are clear and that they fit in with our goals of providing more social housing. I want us to be a key player in housing policy landscape providing innovative solutions to support housing delivery and also carving out how CHI can promote and support the co-operative model in Ireland. If we were able to support others in establishing housing co-operatives, that would be quite a win. I’m excited to see where CHI is going in the next few years but I would like to see more diversity within senior management and more women leaders. Housing precarity tends to affect women, particularly lone parents, and we need to fight against the unequal structures in place that hold people back and don’t allow them to access stable, quality housing.

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