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Focus on construction of social housing needed – Morgan

29 June, 2007


Responding the claims by the Construction Industry Federation that a slowdown in output of housing in and the granting of planning permissions would mean that housing shortages get worse, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Arthur Morgan TD said that the key question was not the number of houses being built but who was acquiring the newly built houses. Morgan argued that housing output needed to be focused on delivering for those attempting to acquire their first home and those on social housing waiting lists.

Morgan said, "The key question is not how many new houses are being constructed in any given year but for whom these houses are being built and who is purchasing the houses. While unprecedented numbers of houses have been constructed in recent years very few of units of social housing have been constructed and a large proportion of housing output has been built specifically for the investor market.

"Housing output needs to be focused on delivering for those attempting to acquire their first home and those on social housing waiting lists.

"Government intervention needs to ensure that the houses that are built go to those in need of a home and not to those seeking to make profit from investing in property. Apartments which are being constructed need to be subject to stronger guidelines in order ensure that these are suitable for family living as this has not been the case in the past.

"Sinn Féin is arguing for the initiation of a major social housing construction programme to ensure the elimination of social housing waiting lists. Such a social housing construction programme will also enable the state to offset any downturn in the construction sector.

"Statistics have shown that approximately 15% of the total housing stock lies empty. A large proportion of the houses and apartments built in recent years have been built as investment properties. This has had severe and detrimental consequences for first time buyers who are forced to compete with wealthy investors when they are trying to secure housing. In the face of such competition from investors first time buyers find themselves priced out of the housing market. Government intervention needs to ensure that the houses that are built go to those in need of a home and not to those seeking to make profit from investing in property". ENDS

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