SOLUTIONS IN HOUSING REQUIRE LONG-TERM PLANNING, NOT SHORT-TERM SOUNDBITES
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’m delighted to be here today with my colleague Minister Alan Kelly to launch Labour’s housing policy.
I have said before during this campaign that the choice people make on Friday 26th next will define the direction of Ireland for the rest of this decade.
This is especially true in the area of housing policy.
Solutions in housing require long-term planning and investment – not short-term soundbites.
I recall when I was made Minister for Housing and Planning that the most urgent issue for many was the prevalence of unfinished estates.
There was at the time a vocal body of opinion that insisted they should all be bulldozed.
It was as if physically destroying houses would in some way atone for building splurge led by Fianna Fail that was the source of some many of our problems.
I didn’t buy into that view.
Instead, I took on the hard task of putting in place viable plans for many of these estates.
We focused on estates where people were already in situ, often enduring very trying conditions.
Five years on the number of unfinished developments has fallen by 75%.
Largely derelict eyesores have been transformed into functioning communities.
Taking the long-term view works – it is vital when dealing with housing.
Labour’s housing policy builds on the foundations already achieved.
In Budget 2015 Minister Kelly secured the largest ever investment in social housing.
€4bn in funding has the capacity to deliver 110,000 social homes by 2020.
For the first time in more than a decade local authorities have the resources to build homes in significant numbers.
Also, Labour’s policy gives the not-for-profit sector an important role in housing delivery and management.
This investment is already paying dividends.
Limerick will see an investment of €57m that will deliver more than 700 social homes by the end of 2017.
This is in addition to the houses that will be built or refurbished under the regeneration programme.
Labour has provided the resources necessary to revive the social housing sector – the challenge now is to ensure delivery.
Challenges also exist in the private housing sector. Recovery in house building has lagged behind the growth in other areas of the economy.
Increasing supply is an absolute priority.
More supply will increase affordability, increase the availability of rental properties and relieve the bottleneck that impacts across all areas of housing.
Labour’s plan includes –
Support for local authorities to frontload Part V contributions, thereby increasing development finance
A land development tax to prevent the hoarding and speculation in zoned land
An examination of the capacity of a “Build to Rent” fund to increase rental supply
Progress on housing is part of a wider agenda.
We need to build new stock.
But we need to build in a planned way.
We know how badly we got it wrong in the past.
We have concentrated social housing in marginalised communities.
We have built housing units, not communities.
We have allowed run away zoning leading to unsustainable developments.
As we begin to build houses again we have to focus on building thriving communities.
That’s why proper planning is so vital, now more than ever.
As Minister for Housing and Planning I rolled back the zoning bonanza that had taken place over the previous decade.
Unsuitable zoning for a potential half a million units was revoked, preventing the ghost estates of the future.
Homes, in thriving communities, with high quality services is what Labour is determined to build over the next five year.
Our policy will achieve that goal.”