Friday, 4 June 2021
Affordable Housing Bill 2021: Committee Stage (Resumed)
Malcolm Noonan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Green Party)
Senator Moynihan has raised a very important issue. Certainly this is a very significant challenge. As Senator Higgins also said, our family units are changing, the nature of family has changed dramatically over the past 20 years in Ireland and there are many single people, couples who are separated and divorced etc. That is reflected in what local authorities are trying to achieve in designing schemes and they have that discretion in terms of designing their own schemes as well to ensure they try to prioritise one-bedroom and two-bedroom homes to get diversity into the housing mix. That is also important in building communities and not just units. It is a really important point to make and I take on board the points made by Senator Chambers on access to affordable housing and by Senator Cummins around achieving the diversity of house types we are talking about. However, I am not sure this is the mechanism by which we should do it. I do not consider there is a particular reason to lock in a prioritisation of either of these categories of people over and above others for affordable dwelling purchase arrangements. The provisions as they stand allow for a degree of prioritisation with respect to the size and composition of the applicant’s household.
The scheme is targeted at persons who cannot afford to purchase a dwelling suited to the household needs at market value. The income of the applicants will be taken into account when determining eligibility. In addition, as outlined under previous amendments, it is the intention to enable local authority members such that, while having regard to their own particular housing needs and characteristics, they could provide for a specific scheme of priority for 30% of the dwellings being made available. Thus that flexibility is there under that 30% which may be the best way forward on this. Accordingly I do not propose to accept this amendment.