Friday, 4 June 2021
Affordable Housing Bill 2021: Committee Stage (Resumed)
John Cummins (Fine Gael)
I mean no disrespect to my colleagues but I believe there has been a fundamental misunderstanding of what cost rental is. Cost rental is defined by the cost of building, financing and maintaining a property now over 40 years as per the legislation. Not a single approved housing body, trust or co-operative, the things that we have added in, would commit to building properties over a 40-year period if they were not certain that the cost of building, maintaining, servicing and financing was going to be returned. In fact, no commercial director of any of those approved housing bodies could legitimately sign a contract that would put the financial sustainability of that approved housing body at risk and that is what we would be doing.
There are different ways in which we can address affordability. We have mechanisms like rent supplement in immediate cases of a reduction in income. We have said in this Bill that if somebody sees a loss of income that the housing assistance payment, HAP, can be availed of where there is a loss of income after the person has been in the cost rental tenancy for a period. There are different ways to achieve what both Senators seek. Putting the whole cost rental model and its financial viability at risk is not the way to do things.
What we all want here is scale and deliverability. I invite any of the Senators to talk to the finance officers of the approved housing bodies. I can assure them that not one of the finance officers would commit to building a single property if they thought that the cost of building, financing and maintaining these properties was not going to be covered over a 40-year period. That would be reckless for them.