Seanad debates

Friday, 4 June 2021

Affordable Housing Bill 2021: Committee Stage (Resumed)

 

9:30 am

Photo of Victor BoyhanVictor Boyhan (Independent)

I will speak to amendments Nos. 69, 70 and 71. I tabled amendment No. 71, so my focus will be on it. It is in the same spirit as my previous amendment No. 38 and aims to ensure the cost to persons availing of this housing is affordable.That is the kernel of this debate.

Senators Moynihan and Higgins are the sponsors of the other amendments in this group. Obviously they have the same goal as I do with amendment No. 71 but I have opted for a slight change. It allows for rent to vary from person to person, thus allowing more flexibility and mixed-income communities, which is important.

I am very favourably inclined to cost rental in the truest sense of the term where rent is not a cent higher than the building, management and maintenance costs of the property. It eliminates the speculative aspects of housing and reinforces the idea of homes as a social good and, indeed, a social necessity. It also allows for lower-income persons to get a home at cost rental at a rent that is affordable, which is key.

I do not know what the Minister of State's decision is on the amendment but if the Government has decided not to accept it then I will call a roll-call vote, as it is at the very kernel of this issue. I feel very strongly about this matter and have spoken to many people in this regard. I am a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage. We have had a lot of debate about it. We have had a lot of submissions and correspondence about it from people in various housing organisations but also, more importantly, from our elected sitting city and county councillors around this country who have first-hand knowledge of the importance of having a range of housing options available but the key is affordability and the ability of someone to pay.

Amendment No. 71 is very similar to the previous amendment that was not accepted, which I agreed to withdraw with the right to re-enter again. I am going to do that too but I will put this amendment to a vote so anyone in the Houses who is listening in may need to prepare to come to the Chamber because my amendment will be voted on.

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