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State must deliver affordable housing for all

10 July 2018

Statement by Jan O'Sullivan TD
Spokesperson on Housing & Local Government, Enterprise & Innovation

Labour Housing spokesperson, Jan O’Sullivan today published a comprehensive policy document outlining Labour’s proposals for state led action to fix the housing system and deliver affordable housing for all.

Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“The Labour Party is proposing a new model of delivery for affordable housing that would over five years deliver 80,000 units of housing on publicly owned land. The four key pillars of our strategy are:

  • A National Housing Development Bank working with regional Housing Executives;
  • Affordable housing for all, in sustainable communities;
  • A commitment to build tens of thousands of affordable homes on publicly owned land, and;
  • A new deal for the rental sector.

“Only State led action can deliver the volume of housing required, at an affordable level, using land that is already in public ownership. After years of private market failure, it is time for a new model.

“We want to see the establishment of a National Housing Development Bank that would drive the implementation of this new model. It would be given the powers, land, expertise and money needed to deliver; replacing the Housing Agency and Housing Finance Agency, and taking resources, land and staff from NAMA. The Department of Housing would retain policy making powers, but implementation would be transferred to the Bank and down to local authorities.

“Alongside this, we would create Housing Executives operating a regional level to restore the capacity of local authorities to build homes, ensuring that the necessary skills, experience and financial capacity is restored and maintained. For example, one of the four Dublin local authorities would function as the Housing Executive for all of Dublin.

“Central to our proposals is using publicly owned land to build homes but it won’t be sold, ensuring this valuable asset remains in public ownership. We will also implement a rent to buy scheme, support the extension of housing cooperatives, and continue to support tenant purchase schemes but there must be full cost recovery.  Central to these commitments and our overall proposals, the State would retain ownership of the land that public housing is built on. Alongside this, a right to housing will be enshrined in the Constitution.

“Our New Deal for the Rental Sector would ensure tenants are protected as outlined in our recent ‘Greater Security of Tenure and Rent Certainty Bill’. Through a national affordable rental scheme, secure, long term tenancies would be promoted, while we also will recognise and support single property landlords.

“Our policy paper also outlines Labour’s proposals to deliver sustainable communities, and address the housing needs of specific groups such as Travellers, students and older people. We want to tackle land hoarding, and ensure every urban area has a robust development masterplan.

“After years of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil policy initiatives aimed at subsidising and supporting private developers - that have not worked, it is time for a new approach to the housing market, with state led action to deliver of affordable housing. Labour’s new policy proposals are a major departure from the current approach, and provide a new model for housing deliver in Ireland.”

ENDS

The full policy document is available here:

https://www.labour.ie/download/pdf/affordable_housing_for_all_labour_housing_policy.pdf