Friday, 4 June 2021
Affordable Housing Bill 2021: Committee Stage (Resumed)
Senator Higgins made most of the points I wanted to make. Senator Fitzpatrick talked about what the Minister said the other day. He said it is envisaged that housing would be made available between €160,000 and €300,000, and he gave an example.Unfortunately, that is not defined in the Bill. This amendment seeks to define it in the Bill. This legislation will hopefully be on the Statute Book for a long time. As Senator Higgins said, Government Members can give out figures but the reality is the market and construction costs can run away with themselves. We are trying to fundamentally link the definition of affordability to income. We have seen the reports in recent days stating that, because of the Covid pandemic, construction costs will go up. The costs of steel and timber will increase and we are likely to see the price of houses, outside what the Government is doing, rising.
I will give the example of a three-bedroom starter home in Rathfarnham. These homes are currently priced at €545,000. The Government definition of affordable is a price of approximately 80% of market value. It is important to note that this Bill ties affordability to market value, rather than incomes. As such, the definition of affordable for this home is €436,000, which means people would have to have an household income of €124,000 to by that affordable home.
This amendment is trying to tie affordability to income and compel the State to make a bridge between those. Senator Boyhan's amendment is good and valid but I want to check the assumption that homes will be made available at prices of between €160,000 and €300,000 because that might not necessarily be the case. This amendment seeks to tie the concept of affordability to income in legislation in a way that survives beyond the next five, ten or 15 years. Housing is a lot more than the short term; it is about building communities for the next 100 years.