Costello proposed new Strategy for resolving housing and homeless crisis
Speaking at the Labour Party meeting on “Housing and Urban Regeneration” in the Skylon Hotel on Thursday 23 November, Joe Costello stated that all recent indicators demonstrated that the housing crisis is getting worse and new approach is needed.
“Homeless figures for November showed a record of 5,298 adults and 3,194 children homeless with a record 184 rough sleepers in November.
“Despite the unprecedented crisis in housing the 36 local authorities built only 439 units of residential accommodation in the two years of 2016 and to date in 2017 and the voluntary housing sector built only 169 units.
“Neither the Local Authority nor the Voluntary Housing Sector have the capacity to address the housing crisis and the private sector is at full capacity in building office blocks, student accommodation and “build to let” units.
“The Minister for Housing is throwing money at the problem but getting no results. It is time for a totally new approach. A Statutory National Housing Agency is required to manage and drive a new model of residential construction and rental accommodation.
“The Agency would have access to state and private finance and state and local authority lands. It would have the powers to deal with the large number of derelict sites, vacant buildings and living over the shop space throughout the country. It would facilitate compulsory purchase of certain properties and would administer a new site valuation tax.
“It would determine the housing need throughout the country from time to time. It would establish targets and monitor performance. It would work with the local authorities and the voluntary housing sector. But above all it would have the expertise and the capacity to build on a large scale in such a way as to drive the residential construction industry.
“The National Assets Management Agency (NAMA) has begun to transform itself from its original remit of disposal of state assets to becoming a major player in the construction industry mainly through joint ventures with developers. It has a significant 20,000 units under construction or at planning stage. These are due to be completed by 2020. Moreover, it has a strong profit base of €4 billion for future construction.
NAMA has the resources and the expertise to be a major player in the construction of the tens of thousands of new homes that are urgently needed.
“It could link up with the National Housing Agency, especially in Dublin where most of its assets are located to quickly begin to address the crisis in housing and homelessness.”