Friday, 4 June 2021
Affordable Housing Bill 2021: Committee Stage (Resumed)
I thank Senators Moynihan and Warfield for putting forward these amendments. I will talk about cost-rental for a moment because it is important to provide the context. Cost-rental has been a key policy of the Green Party for decades. It is also a key part of this Bill. There are two reasons that cost-rental is important. These amendments align with those reasons. The first reason relates to the quality of life of the person or family in the accommodation. We are really looking to ensure the lowest rent possible is charged. We have social housing in this country, which I do not believe Austria has, and these provisions therefore have to be slightly different. We are talking about people who earn more than the income limits for eligibility for social housing. I cannot see why the cost to the State would be that much different if the rent is calculated over a period of 30 years or a period of 40 years, but it makes a great difference to the person or family living in the accommodation. I, therefore, believe we should try to accommodate these proposals insofar as is possible. I ask that the Minister of State look at doing that.
The other thing, which Senator Bacik mentioned, is security of tenure. Some of the other amendments speak to that issue, so I will come back to it. It is, however, also key. If the minimum period is set at 30 or even 40 years, the lifetime of a person's tenancy may expire when he or she is 50 or 60 years of age. I am not convinced that is secure. I know that is not entirely what these amendments are about but these issues need to be considered together.
The second reason that cost-rental is really important is that if it is rolled out to the extent that we in the Green Party would like it to be - our policy proposes 20,000 cost-rental units per annum - or even to an extent approaching that 20,000-unit mark, it would calm the whole market. It would end the boom-bust cycle because the private rental market would then have to compete with a cost-rental market and would, therefore, have to adjust the cost of rent. This is a similar outcome to that of another measure quite apart from cost-rental. Building homes will also calm the market, which is what every section of this Bill tries to do. I would lend support my support to this amendment, or to another amendment worded along these lines. That is what I am really trying to say, in a somewhat long-winded way. I will come back to the issue of length of tenure.