A real strategy is needed to deliver social and affordable housing

20 July 2018

Jan O’Sullivan TD, Labour Party spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government. commented today that “Various commentators have concluded that Rebuilding Ireland is failing. Labour agrees. But what matters is putting forward a real strategy to deliver social and affordable housing, so that everyone in society can afford a decent home.”

She continued:

“The problem is that the Government is doubling down on the same strategy, of giving cheap loans to the private sector, instead of recognising that the private model of housing development is not suitable for delivering social and affordable housing.

“In Labour’s comprehensive housing strategy, Affordable Housing for All, published last week, we laid out dozens of specific policies that would make a real difference.

“Only State-led action can deliver the supply of social and affordable housing that we need.

“The Government doubled its capital spend on housing in 2018, where €1.6 billion was allocated. But this is still far too little to address the deep crisis in housing supply. Labour would allocate a total of €16 billion over five years, which is €3.2 billion per year. Based on a build cost of €200,000, this investment would allow 80,000 social and affordable homes to be built on public land around the country. As well as traditional social housing, this would include affordable housing for sale or to rent at a reduced cost.

“We paid a far higher price as a society to fix the banking crisis. It is now time for a collective public investment in housing to deal with a housing crisis that is blighting many people’s lives.

“Housing affordability must be measured against people’s incomes, not relative to market prices or people’s ability to borrow high sums of money. Labour would ensure that affordable housing built under its strategy would not cost more than 30-40 per cent of household’s after-tax income, whereas many renters are paying more than half their wages in rent at present.

“The problem with the Government’s new National Regeneration and Development Agency is that although it recognises the important role of building on public land to provide affordable housing, it is reliant on private developers to play a lead role. Labour’s proposal for a National Housing Development Bank would be a much more powerful agency, given the necessary powers and resources to act as a State-owned developer and directly commission building work. By combining the existing expertise of the Housing Finance Agency, Housing Agency and parts of NAMA into this new Housing Development Bank, Labour would create a powerful executive agency that would deliver housing at the pace required.

“The new Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is also part of the problem.. It can take up to five years for local authority housing projects to gain all the necessary permissions to proceed, and delays in the Department are part of the problem. Labour’s solution is to place all executive and implementation functions into the new Housing Development Bank, and over time to restore powerful Housing Executives to local government, on a regional basis.”

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