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Government proposals must include delivery of social housing

16 September, 2008

Responding to government plans to extend credit from the National Treasury Management Agency to the Housing Finance Agency on the basis that it give greater access to local authority loans for the lower paid Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Housing Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on the government to make a much more substantial intervention into what is for thousands of families across the state a housing crisis.

The Dublin TD said:

"Government efforts to increase the delivery of social and affordable housing are of course to be welcomed. However the current proposals by government must pass a number of key economic and social proofing stages before becoming government policy.

"Will the proposals make housing in real terms more affordable to low income families. What impact will the new arrangement have on the overall housing market? Will the measure artificially inflate house prices? Who will benefit, home buyers or developers?

"Central to any new government policy on housing must factor in increasing the delivery of social housing stock. Even with extended credit facilities offered to those on low incomes by the Housing Finance Agency for many families buying a home will still be beyond their financial reach. With 44,000 families throughout the state on the social housing list ignoring the needs of those most vulnerable makes no social or economic sense.

"Currently in Dublin there are approximately 10,000 empty private units, 4,500 thousand of these are two bedroom and 1,500 one bedroom units. Tally this with 2,015 homeless in the capital city, many of whom are in emergency accommodation and 80% are single men. One bedroom units have dropped considerably in price therefore making local authority purchase of such units an attractive option in the current economic climate.

"The delivery of new housing stock will be nearly half this year to what it was in 2007, therefore purchasing from the glut of existing housing stock at competitive costs to deliver housing to those most in need makes sense.

"Of course any new measures by government to acquire housing from the private market must deliver value for money to the tax payer. However if the purchase of existing units can immediately deliver on stream social housing units therefore taking families and the homeless out of rent supplemented and emergency accommodation then such options must be considered.

"To date government has taken an extremely hands off approach to the delivery of social and affordable housing. In the context of the current food, fuel and finance crisis it simply does not make sense for government to continue shirking its responsibility to families on low incomes who need support in purchasing their own home." ENDS

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