Friday, 4 June 2021
Affordable Housing Bill 2021: Committee Stage (Resumed)
I am sorry. My apologies. It is Senator Gavan. That was unintentional. I do apologise.
Senator Gavan started by talking about people who do not qualify for social housing because their income is above the income threshold for social housing. Those are the people who this legislation is seeking to help. We are seeking to provide people who earn in excess of the social housing income threshold with support to own and secure an affordable home. To be fair to Senator Gavan, he was not present the other day. I do not accuse him in any way in that regard, but he did not have the benefit of hearing the Minister of State speak the last day. However, I think Senator Boyhan heard him. The Minister of State outlined very clearly that affordable housing would start at €160,000 and would be capped at €310,000.It is deliberately misleading for anybody to say this Government or any part of this legislation is defining affordability in Limerick based on a value of €350,000 and in Dublin based on a value of €450,000. That is just not true. The legislation and the Government are clearly stating those prices are unaffordable. For that reason, we are saying the State needs to financially support people in the short term to secure a home. In the medium to longer term, the State needs to provide affordable homes starting at €160,000. What the Senator is suggesting is not what this legislation is about. It is dangerously misleading and disruptive to say it is. It is upsetting for those who need affordable homes for the Senator to try to push the line that the Government is suggesting affordable homes in Limerick will cost €350,000. For the benefit of the Senator, bearing in mind his definition of affordability, which is based on 35% or 40% of income, the Minister clearly outlined the other day that, according to this legislation, applicants who benefit from the affordable housing scheme will potentially pay significantly less than 35% of their income. He gave specific examples. He said a single person with a 30-year mortgage borrowing three and a half times his or her income would be spending 21% of his or her income per month. That is significantly below what the Senator proposes as the affordability measure. Can we be honest with people in this regard? This is important to families' lives. It is so damaging to tell them their Government does not understand the problem and is legislating to make it worse. It is blatantly untrue.