Labour Party calls for new bank to spend €16bn on 80,000 low-cost homes

Radical proposals to fix the broken housing system include creating a Housing Development Bank which would oversee the spending of €16bn to deliver 80,000 low-cost homes.

Labour launched the strategy and said the homes could be built at a cost of €200,000 per unit and open their doors within five years.

The party wants three key agencies merged under one body, namely a new National Housing Development Bank.

This would borrow from the European Investment Bank and ultimately utilise state-owned lands and sites to provide affordable homes across the country.

Leader Brendan Howlin said housing policy during the boom had “failed” and costs since the recovery had risen sky-high.

The changes, he said, would involve repurposing Nama, which is set to be wound down. The housing bank would also incorporate the Housing Agency and the Housing Finance Agency, see all three disbanded and their expertise used. Furthermore, special housing units would be set up in local authorities.

Labour said it would commit €16bn under the bank over five years to provide investment in social and affordable housing. This would allow for 80,000 units on publicly owned land to be built.

The party estimates the building cost for each unit would be €200,000 per home.

A national affordable scheme for renters would also increase the availability of rent-to-buy schemes as well as the use of long-term leases.

Labour is also pushing for a new referendum to ask voters should the right to housing be enshrined in the Constitution.

Mr Howlin said the private sector could not be relied on for housing and that public lands should be retained.

Housing spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan also said there were huge delays in people getting social housing and the building of such schemes.

“There is nobody driving things,” stressed the Limerick TD.

Mr Howlin added:”Getting access to affordable, secure housing is impossible for too many people, hinders family formation, and stunts community development.

“We believe everyone has a right to be able to afford a safe, secure home, it is the benchmark of a decent society, and it is the duty of the State to take action to deliver on that.”

“Too many times the housing market has failed in Ireland, with catastrophic results. We propose to ensure the State takes a more direct role in the provision of housing.”

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