The Social Democrats launched a detailed housing policy document on February 12th “Unlocking Affordable Housing”. This document focuses heavily on our approach to bringing about a planned, coordinated and efficient way of addressing housing need, which we believe is the only way to tackle present crisis and ensure we never see ourselves back here again.
We propose to establish a new Department of Housing, Communities and Planning headed up by cabinet level minister and we also want to see the Housing Agency replaced with Housing Ireland that has remit to tackle housing crisis by coordinating procurement, planning, design and delivery of new homes and the creation of sustainable communities.
In short-to-medium term we are proposing measures to address the present crisis:
- Increase Rent Supplement/Housing Assistance Payment.
- Link price of rents to cost of living by, for example, introducing term-limited tax credits for landlords who retain tenants with only cost-of living rent increases.
- Deliver 10% social housing and 10% starter homes with all new developments.
We also endorse policy measures set out by the Housing Agency to revitalise vacant units, these include:
- · Incentivise over-accommodated owners to downsize.
- · Provide tax incentives for conversion of vacant space and modernisation of existing unused residential space.
- · Over-the-Shop tax incentive to encourage development of unused urban space.
- · Encourage pension funds to invest in Irish social housing.
- · Legislate to facilitate tax efficiency in temporal ownership.
- · Eliminate disincentives in Fair Deal Scheme to eliminate disincentives to renting in a situation where a person is in a nursing home.
A housing emergency should be declared immediately by the government. The crisis flows from the ideological commitment of this government to the private market and the profit motive to provide housing. That has utterly failed and needs to be abandoned with direct state involvement.
NAMA should be transformed from a life-support machine for developers into an agency for building social and affordable homes on a massive scale. Proper rent controls should be implemented, outlawing rent rises above inflation
Housing is a national emergency. The scandal of homelessness and 1,600 children living in emergency accommodation is completely unacceptable in a modern republic. We are putting forward a package of measures to build 150,000 new homes by 2021 and secure home ownership for a new generation. We will:
- Build 150,000 new homes by 2021 including 45,000 new social housing units
- Create a new Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to take the lead on solving the housing crisis
- Launch a €5.4bn social housing investment program to build 45,000 social housing units
- Put in place a First Time Buyers Savings scheme to help first time buyers save for their deposit
- Restore Part V to 20%
- Raise Rent Supplement to protect vulnerable households from homelessness
To meet housing demand Fine Gael will support an increase in the annual housing output to a sustainable level of 25,000 by 2021. As part of this goal, we will support NAMA to deliver on their target of 20,000 residential units before the end of 2020.
We will improve the availability of finance for new home construction, with a €500m joint venture to finance the building of 11,000 new homes through the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).
We will encourage immediate development through a targeted development contribution rebate scheme in Dublin and Cork. At the same time, we will tackle the hoarding of land by developers by introducing a vacant site levy on serviced land in urban areas. We will also streamline the local planning process with “use it or lose it” planning permissions, and the introduction of greater flexibility in the Strategic Development Zones.
Fine Gael will also end the need for rough sleeping and implement a housing-focused strategy to end involuntary long-term homelessness. As part of this we will significantly boost the supply of social and affordable housing.
The Green Party would create a National Housing Authority, saying that the agency would deliver 20,000 housing units per year.
We have large areas in public ownership, such as the 25 acres at Glass Bottle Site which has been allowed to lie idle for the last five years as the housing crisis grew.
We would amalgamate the Housing Agency and the Housing Finance Agency to create the National Housing Authority.
The NHA would work closely with local authorities and housing associations to plan, finance, develop and deliver the housing stock we desperately need. The new authority would take the existing expertise developed within NAMA as that agency winds down to carry out its role.
The NHA would borrow on the open market, secured against the future income streams from the new and existing public housing stock. This borrowing would be off the state's balance sheet and be similar to the model used in Austria.
Hold a referendum to enshrine housing as a social right in the Constitution
Restore the 80% rezoning windfall tax
Replace property tax with a new tax levied annually at a progressive rate on the site value of lands suitable for building (Site Valuation Tax)
Tackle the under-use and hoarding of derelict land by the state, semi-state and private sectors by reforming the Derelict Sites Act
Restore the Part (V) requirements for social housing provision in housing developments to 20%
Limit the amount by which a landlord can raise rent in any year to 7%
Allocate an extra €1m in funding to the Private Residential Tenancies Board, to ensure tenancy rights are being upheld
Amend equality legislation to prevent tenants being rejected solely on the basis of receiving rent supplement
Provide €500 million for the development of affordable rental housing with rents 20% or more below market levels
Establish a ‘Save to Buy’ scheme to make saving for a deposit easier for those aspiring to own their own home
Build up a stable and secure long-term rental market
Introduce a deposit protection scheme and extend the maximum lease period for tenants
Ensure we build balanced communities with a mix of private, rental and social housing
Set up a new Land Development Agency to ensure long-term housing demand is matched by available space
Better cater to the housing needs of our student population
Our priority in housing is immediate and swift action. There is a gap of 15,000 between the number of houses being built and non speculative market demand. Until that vacuum is filled the Irish housing crisis can only escalate.
That is why our housing priority is to put in place an annual two billion state supervised Public Private Partnership scheme to build housing for working people, the young and the aged who cannot access the current market. Action first policy later is our position on this matter.
The housing crisis will require a multi-faceted approach. Much of it is down to supply. We’ll launch Project 2030 – 100,000 social and affordable houses, and in a 5-year government term we’ll build 36,500 homes with €5 billion capital investment.
This will begin to tackle housing waiting lists and free up private rented properties currently used by rent supplement recipients. It will bring affordable homes on stream and help contain market prices.
We’ll empower the Central Bank to cap mortgage interest rates. We will introduce rent certainty in the private sector through legislation to link rents to inflation. And we’ll increase funding for homeless services by €30 million and begin the process of eliminating homelessness.
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