Affordable Housing Bill Is Investor Led Bill

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
04 May 2021

Speaking today on the publication of the so-called ‘Affordable’ Housing Bill, Labour housing spokesperson Senator Rebecca Moynihan said the Government has chosen an investor led approach to housing, rather than one which delivers for first time buyers and renters.

Senator Moynihan said:

“The much trumpeted Affordable Housing Bill won’t deliver the affordable housing we need. It is the same old failed approach of relying on investors and developers to solve the housing and affordability crisis.

“The Bill as it currently stands is destined to fail. It is trying to incentivise investors and developers rather than taking a State led approach.

“Yet again the lobbyists have captured Government. Government has chosen to abandon cost rental, opting instead for a profit model and a shared equity scheme that expert commentators, such as the ESRI and Central Bank, have said is a demand side measure. This will increase house prices rather than represent a step change in our approach to housing, making it genuinely affordable for ordinary people. 

“I’m worried about the rhetoric put forward by the Government – either they are lying to the public or they fundamentally don’t understand that the shared equity scheme will push up the price of housing. Government says that this is a supply measure,  however, such an explanation lacks an understanding of basic economics.

“We also learned last week that the much trumpeted cost rental scheme won’t be tied to affordability but will be for-profit for investors.

“The whole purpose of an affordable rental model is to target lower-income renters, protecting them and ensuring they have a roof over their head in a crazy rental market. During the course of the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Affordable Housing Bill, the outside agencies we consulted concluded that affordability was the critical issue and that the generally agreed definition of ‘affordability’ equates to one third of a person’s net income.

“The Labour Party put forward an amendment to the Affordable Housing Bill which would define affordability and tie the very concept of ‘affordable rent’ to income thereby levelling the playing field somewhat for renters. However, the Government’s decision to vote this amendment down shows that they are not interested in real affordability but rather ‘just less than market cost’ with profiteering off this new tenure allowed.

“This investor and developer led approach to so called affordable housing will not deliver affordable housing for the people currently crying out for an opportunity to own their own home or have secure affordable rental tenancies.

“A safe, secure home is life’s cornerstone. We knew that before now, but in a year when we’ve all had to stay at home, the point is well proven. Everyone should have security about keeping their home, regardless of whether they are renters or owners.

“Today I joined with my opposition colleagues to launch the Affordable Housing Minority Report which outlines the key pitfalls in the Governments proposals and the potential solutions that would deliver affordability in the market.

“I hope the Minister has the good grace to reconsider our report as the Bill makes its way though the Oireachtas and that he reflects on the ultimate aim of this legislation – to protect ordinary people in a housing market that is out of control. The State has a duty to take whatever action necessary to ensure that everyone can afford a home.”

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