A report from the Economic and Social Research Institute suggests that there has been a marked drop in the level of home ownership in recent years.

The report noted that this had been particularly acute for younger-aged households.

It found that the number of 25 to 34-year-olds living independently, who own their own home, more than halved between 2004 and 2019, falling from 60% to just 27%.

The report says that lower homeownership rates mean a higher proportion of households in the rental sector and the continuation of rental payments into retirement.

The research - funded by the Pensions Council - estimates that 65% of those currently aged 35-44 are likely to become homeowners by retirement given current trends, compared to 90% of those currently aged more than 65.

It also suggests that reductions in homeownership of this magnitude could raise the proportion of older people living in income poverty from 14% at present to as high as 31%.

Dr Rachel Slaymaker, lead author of the report, said that home ownership in retirement currently provides a double dividend - lower housing costs and higher assets in retirement.

"Our findings suggest that homeownership rates will be substantially lower for future cohorts, particularly those currently aged 45 and under," she said.

"Without intervention this will lead to significantly higher rates of income poverty in retirement for these cohorts," she added.

Roma Burke, Chair of the Pensions Council, said the ESRI has predicted that one in three people aged 35-44 now won't own a home by the time they retire.

"If you don't own your home by the time you retire, your living expenses are still going to be significant, even if your income falls. This could cause many more older people to be at risk of poverty in the future, unless action is taken to address this important challenge," the Pensions Council chair added.

Govt accused of 'catastrophic failure' over housing

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath has told the Dáil that the Government is "pursuing aggressively" the "key conclusion" of the ESRI report on home ownership.

["We] as the Government are pursuing aggressively" three specific measures included in the report, he said, which states that "interventions, including increased supply, increased direct provision of social housing, and measures that develop alternative non-market rental cohorts such as cost rental", will help to address the crisis.

"We are in the middle of the largest public housing programme in the history of the State," the minister added.

He was responding during Leaders' Questions to Solidarity-PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett who accused the Government of a "catastrophic failure" in its response to the "housing disaster".

He said that 120,000 families and households are on accommodation waiting lists, and the "vast majority of young and middle aged people" are unable to pay accommodation costs.

And as a result they will be "in a far worse position" when they retire, according to the ESRI, he said.

Tenants will be "prey" to "obscene rents" and the insecurity of being evicted in old age, Deputy Boyd Barrett added, and accused the Government of "stealth" cuts in housing support.

The minister accused him of being "great at the rhetoric", but of opposing all measures the Government introduces to tackle the crisis.

Independent TD Joan Collins said that the number of renters being evicted has hit a record high.

There were 3,038 eviction notices last year, some to people in her constituency and some have had to resort to "sofa-surfing", but may end up in cars or garda stations, she warned.

Currently there are 281,000 children living in the rental sector, Deputy Collins said, and they need "a stable and safe home".

"Emergency accommodation will be found for those that really need it," Minister McGrath promised.

In relation to today's ESRI report on housing, the Tanaiste said it is very stark, although the findings will come as no surprise to anyone.

"Ireland is a country that is a property owning, home owning democracy, and that is the way we want things to be," Leo Varadkar said.

"Most people in Ireland, well over 60% in Ireland, do own their own home. But that's not the reality for people aged 25-34, it used to be, and it needs to be again," he said.

"That is why we are going to do everything we can to make home ownership a reality again for the majority of people in that age group," he added.

Mr Varadkar said the Government is working on increasing housing supply, helping people with a deposit through the Help to Buy Scheme, offering local authority loans for more affordable mortgages and is now moving into the space of shared equity and affordable home schemes.

"I don't think it is inevitable that home ownership has to decline in Ireland," he said.

"We can turn it around and that is absolutely the objective of Government," he added.