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Solution to housing crisis lies in large scale Local Authority building - Cllr Thomas Gould

7 December, 2015 - by Thomas Gould

Sinn Féin General Election Candidate Cllr Thomas Gould has said that the solution to the housing crisis in Cork City, and throughout the state, lies in a return to large scale Local Authority building.

He said that the clear purpose of such a strategy is to get people off the streets, off housing waiting lists and to build sustainable, integrated communities.

Councillor Gould was speaking this morning at the launch of the Sinn Féin Better4Housing Policy in the Commons Inn in Cork City.

He said;

"Since the start of the recession housing waiting lists have increased by 40% throughout the state. We are no strangers to that reality here in Cork City where we have over 8,000 people and their dependents crying out for social and affordable housing.

"We have not arrived here by chance. Instead of building social housing, it has been the policy of the Fine Gael and Labour Party government, and Fianna Fáil before them, to subsidise private landlords.

"In 2005, the NESC produced a report entitled 'Housing in Ireland' in which it estimated that the state would need a total social housing stock of 200,000 by 2014. There are currently 139,000 Local Authority and Approved Housing Body units across the state.

"Revising the shortfall upwards, due to the scale of the crisis, we believe that a minimum of 100,000 social housing units must be provided over the next 15 years.

"The identification of land will be paramount to the implementation of any plan. We already ready identified a land banks in Cork City on which to build social housing and last month, Cork City Council applied to get that project started. However, we were turned down by Alan Kelly and Department of Environment. That is infuriating because we could have had 1300 households housed in Cork City today if that plan had been allowed to go ahead. So it is clear that the obstacles being placed in our way are based on political choices that are being made by this government.

"The social housing mix we envisage involves traditional social housing, a portion for 'Cost Rental' to cater for people whose income does not entitle them to social housing but is still below a certain threshold, and a final portion would be 'Cost Purchase' which would be sold at cost price, plus a small margin, on strict criteria. However, we would maintain stays on purchase schemes in times of crisis.

"To implement this policy, all local authorities would be required to produce housing action plans beginning 2016 to 2030. These plans would identify the existing housing need in the city, projected future need and an outline of how the council intends to meet these needs.

"The Better4Housing plan is a comprehensive and strategic policy for addressing the housing crisis. We are saying that one thing is clear - we have to build social housing on a massive scale in order to resolve this crisis. This plan is about getting people off the streets, off housing lists and is focused on building sustainable, integrated communities.

"Sinn Féin in government will ensure that this plan is implemented. Along with my colleague Jonathan O'Brien TD and Cllr Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, I want to be part of the team that takes real and meaningful action to end the crisis."

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