Friday, 4 June 2021
Affordable Housing Bill 2021: Committee Stage (Resumed)
I will be brief. This is a better drafted version of my amendments Nos. 34 and 35, which related to households headed by a single person. I also had amendments relating to households with a disability. It should be borne in mind that households in which somebody has a disability constitute a very large proportion of the population. For technical reasons those amendments could not be introduced, but I hope that this is considered within the systems of eligibility and the priorities planning. I fully support this amendment. I think it is very frustrating for people when household incomes are added up to see assumptions of two incomes per household, leaving aside the assumption that both incomes will come through forever, that both people will work forever and that there will not be gaps or inconsistencies.
Calculations based all the time on two incomes combined in respect of housing do not reflect the reality. In fact, this amendment is modest in proposing that 20% of dwellings be reserved for purchase by the applicants described because we know that 20% of families in Ireland are headed by a single person, one person. In other words, households headed by a single parent account for 20% of families in Ireland. Add to that individuals who live alone and who want to live alone, and this is one of the huge parts of the hidden homelessness we know we have. Then there are the people who are 40 or 45 years of age and still living at home because they have no chance at all on any housing list and there is really no prospect of their being able to afford a house. People want to live their lives in their way at 40 and 45. This situation is not acceptable. The 20% is already covered just by families. Then one looks to the cohort of persons who are on their own and the whole other large cohort of people who may have lost a partner.
This is a really good measure. Subsection (b) would cover cases in which there is only one member of a household and cases in which only one person is earning an income and somebody else is in a caring role, which we know constitute another huge component and percentage of the reality of households. Again, this is really sensible. The amendment should ideally be accepted but certainly should be reflected in the scheme of priority in order that we send a message to every kind of household to the effect that we know that they might need an affordable home and that they are entitled to have that hope and expectation. I encourage the Minister of State to accept the amendment if possible.