Less funds, more State investment in housing required

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
03 June 2021

Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan has said the time has come to end the State reliance on investment funds to solve Ireland’s housing crisis. Citing the ESRI report published today, Senator Moynihan said this report should be a watershed moment for the Government and represents a clear, evidence-based argument to invest State money in housing for all.

Highlighting Labour’s housing plan, Senator Moynihan outlined the need to create a €15 billion fund to build 80,000 state homes.

Senator Moynihan said:

“The reliance on the private housing market has failed yet the government want to continue that policy of carrots for investors. The ESRI report is clear evidence that direct state involvement in the housing sector is needed. We need to stop trying to incentivise the cuckoos and start properly funding a state building programme through capital borrowing.

“We in the Labour Party have consistently called for State investment and intervention in the housing market to build affordable homes for people to rent or buy. This independent report by the ESRI backs up everything we have been saving over the five wasted years of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil policies. The Government continuously says that there is ‘no quick fix’, but this research shows that through borrowing for investment in capital expenditure, we could increase supply, implement sustainable housing market habits and address affordability.

“The Government continues to take a wrongheaded approach to tackle the housing issue – enticing investors into the market through the Land Development Agency Bill and the Affordable Housing Bill. The State support of investments and cuckoo funds needs to stop. Government funding aimed to stimulate housing supply has ultimately been used by funds to buy up houses and apartments before they could be put on the open market for regular buyers.

“If the Minister won’t listen to Labour he might listen to the ESRI. We need to build 80,000 social and affordable, energy-efficient homes. We need to reimagine our next generation of high quality, energy efficient public housing. Across Europe, up to a third of people enjoy secure, affordable homes provided by cities and local authorities.

“At the end of 2020 housing delivery had reached only 70% of the original target. While everyone accepts that progress has slowed due to Covid, Government needs to realise that the crisis in housing has not gone away. The pandemic has not eradicated the urgent need to build social housing and deliver homes for people who are waiting on the social housing list. 61,880 households were assessed as being qualified for, and in need of, social housing support as of 2 November 2020.

“In Labour’s housing plan, we want to see the State build an extra 2,000 local authority homes on publicly owned land this year, adding to the planed 8,900 at an additional cost of €600 million. We need seed financing for at least 4,000 affordable rental homes, and 4,000 affordable homes to purchase per year at a cost of €500 million. Labour’s housing plan would also establish a Community Infrastructure Fund for local authority and AHB building projects over 50 units at a cost of €30 million. This is possible and within reach of Government if only there was ambition and will to achieve it.

“Housing is a fundamental human right that underpins every aspect of life and wellbeing. This housing crisis has been created by years of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil poor policies and legislation. This is the crisis that they have created and allowed to spiral. We can’t afford another 10 years of shortages as suggested by the ESRI. If the stories shared by people experiencing insecurity in the housing market isn’t enough to move them to change, perhaps this ESRI report is.”

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