Seanad debates

Friday, 4 June 2021

Affordable Housing Bill 2021: Committee Stage (Resumed)


9:30 am

Photo of Mary FitzpatrickMary Fitzpatrick (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Affordable cost rental is important. This is the first time ever in the history of our State that we will provide affordable cost rental accommodation for our citizens. It will be for people who are earning just above the social income threshold but who do not qualify for social housing and are struggling to secure affordable homes to rent.

There is a historical model of renting in Ireland. We talk about investors and all of that narrative is what dominates the media at the moment. The reality, however, is the majority of landlords are owners of one or two properties. That does not serve our renters very well because there is an insecurity of tenure and clearly the affordability issue is enormous.

It is important we get the affordable cost rental right from a legislative perspective but also from a funding perspective. I have also read the ESRI report. It clearly stated the Government should increase capital funding for housing. I absolutely agree with it. All of my colleagues in government do. We were all proud to vote for the biggest capital housing budget in the history of the State, namely, the €2.2 billion approved for this year. We cannot spend much of it because of Covid, which has caused a major delay. However, once we get this legislation through, it gives us the legislative framework to improve and significantly increase the capital budget for housing.

The ESRI told us that the Government should increase its capital funding to between €4 billion and €7 billion. It also said there is a requirement of €12 billion a year for the next ten years in terms of housing investment. The ESRI not only called on the Government to increase its funding for capital investment in the provision of housing but also to stimulate private investment in the provision of housing.It specifically states that the private investment is too sluggish and will not deliver the quantum of homes that are needed. This is a prudent move with regard to affordable cost-rental. It mirrors what has been done in Europe and the Vienna model where there are ethical, sustainable funds investing in the provision of housing. It is not the traditional leasing model and to conflate both is a mistake. This is about ensuring that not only will the State invest in the provision of affordable cost-rental but also that ethical, sustainable funds will invest in providing affordable cost-rental. It is important that we make it possible for those funds to invest so that we can deliver, for the first time, affordable cost-rental that will give renters affordability and security of tenure. We can aim to get to the 20,000 cost-rental homes that are desperately needed.


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