18 Aug 2022

Cowen outlines vision to make housing affordable

Barry Cowen TD

Barry Cowen TD

Offaly TD and Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Housing, Barry Cowen TD has said that the State has to get back into the business of subsidising affordable housing for middle income families who do not qualify for social housing. 

The Deputy said that the Government’s reneging on commitments to reintroduce Affordable Housing Schemes will not be overlooked by Fianna Fáil. 

Speaking on the revelation that house prices will only start at €470,000 in the first housing development to benefit under Government’s new Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) Deputy Cowen commented:

“The decision by Minister Murphy and the Government that there is to be no reintroduction of Affordable Housing Schemes abolished in 2012 is driven by misguided market fundamentalism.

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“Let us be clear, neither the LIHAF nor the Land Bank Plan are Affordable Housing Schemes. This can be clearly seen in the unaffordable prices in developments benefitting under these programmes."

“While a new housing supply is important, it is not what ultimately matters. Housing affordability, being able to affordable somewhere decent to live, is what matters for low and middle income families," he added. 

“The Government’s strategy of abolishing the middle-tier of subsidised affordable housing has created a divided and skewed market for middle income families. These are families who do not qualify for social housing, but who are forced to hand over 40 to 50% of their wages per month on rent in Dublin, Cork and elsewhere."

He continued: “Simply adding new supply will not ‘solve’ the housing crisis for these people, which appears to be the belief of Minister Murphy. This is not a matter of funding, in fact the Department of Housing refused to even spend €10m allocated for the purpose of creating a pilot Affordable Rental Scheme in Budget 2016."

“Focusing exclusively on supply without doing anything to ensure affordability is the route back to the next housing bubble. The only way to ensure that new the supply translates into affordable rents and house prices is to subsidise housing through these schemes," Cowen explained.

“The direct role of affordable housing will be to provide housing for low to middle income households paying above 40% income in rent at present. The indirect role of affordable housing will be to provide a price anchor to dampen down house price and rental inflation in the private market and improve overall affordability," he concluded.

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