Ireland's rate of home ownership is below the EU average, they write, and rental regulations in the country are not strong enough to offer security to renters in the long or medium term, which disproportionately affects families and the elderly.
"The principle should now be adopted that long-term affordable and good quality social housing will be provided by local authorities, voluntary housing bodies, cooperatives or some new not-for-profit entities," the bishops proposed.
The letter's purpose, the bishops said, was not to necessarily to offer "technical insight" into the best housing policies, but rather to highlight the "gravity" of the situation and "draw attention to the values and principles which could inspire an effective response through improved public policies."
Making high profits off land speculation and charing high rents are two activities cited as being contrary to these values.
"[Housing] provision should and can take account of environmental sustainability, the use of proper building standards to ensure quality of living for occupants, an awareness of rural and urban development policies, and a commitment to ensuring that those employed in the construction sector can work in safe, secure and fair working environments," the bishops wrote. "The housing crisis is larger than provision of accommodation alone. Energy poverty is widespread in Ireland and many are living in substandard or minimal standards for accommodation."
Father Sean Donohoe, co-director of homelessness charity Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin, was quoted in the Belfast Telegraph as saying Oct. 1 that it is not the responsibility of the Church to solve the homelessness crisis, but Church properties around Dublin have been donated and are used by homelessness charities.
Father Donohue also told the Belfast Telegraph that the Capuchin Day Centre distributes 300 to 350 breakfasts every day and distributes supplies to 250 families.
"Our youngest was about two weeks old and oldest is 92 and it's everybody in between, for all different reasons," he said.