That Dáil Éireann:
— housing in the State has become unaffordable for most ordinary workers, putting homeownership out of the reach of a whole generation of young people;
— it is becoming increasingly difficult for first-time buyers, and those trying to buy a home, to buy a house, as the cost of housing has increased by 30 per cent across the State since 2016 and 40 per cent in Dublin City;
— the cost of renting a home has increased by 44 per cent across the State since 2016, and 36 per cent in Dublin City, and this is preventing people from saving the deposits needed to buy a home;
— in 2016, Rebuilding Ireland: An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness promised to deliver 2,000 affordable rental homes by 2018;
— to date, not a single affordable rental home has been delivered by Government;
— in Budget 2019, the Government allocated €300 million to deliver 6,000 affordable purchase homes by 2021 and, to date, not a single affordable purchase home has been delivered from this funding;
— in Budget 2021, no additional capital funding was allocated for affordable purchase homes;
— in Budget 2021, just €35 million was allocated for approved housing bodies to buy 390 apartments for affordable rental;
— on 9th February, 2021, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage confirmed to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage that 530 affordable homes would be delivered in 2021, 700 in 2022 and close to 1,500 in 2023;
— on 9th March, 2021, the Land Development Agency confirmed to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage that the first homes to be delivered by the agency would be in 2023, with just 600 units that year and 600 in 2024 and above 1,000 by 2025;
— the National Economic and Social Council, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and the Housing Agency have all called on the Government to deliver affordable homes on scale;
— the ESRI has called on the Government to double direct capital investment in social and affordable homes;
— the International Monetary Fund has said that the Government can borrow more capital funding to address the affordable housing crisis; and
— on the basis of the current spending allocations, delivery targets and delivery timelines, it is clear that this Government does not have either the plan or the ambition to tackle the affordable housing crisis; and
calls on the Government to:
— take immediate action to make housing affordable again;
— recognise that delivering social and affordable housing and addressing the crisis in the rental sector will reduce the pressure that is pushing up house prices;
— double direct capital investment in public housing to meet social and affordable need to at least €2.8 billion annually;
— agree annual targets for the delivery of affordable Cost Rental and affordable purchase homes with every local authority, including those to be delivered by
approved housing bodies, co-operatives and community housing trusts;
— deliver a minimum of 8,000 affordable homes each year with 4,000 affordable Cost Rental and 4,000 affordable purchase homes;
— structure the financing and delivery of the affordable purchase homes to deliver an average purchase price of €230,000 in Dublin, and less elsewhere;
— structure the financing and delivery of the affordable Cost Rental homes to deliver an average rental charge of between €700 and €900 per month; and
— end the sale or gifting of residential public land to private developers, to ensure that all homes on such land are social, affordable Cost Rental and affordable purchase.”
Every day, I receive calls or emails from working people across the country. While their personal circumstances may be very different, a single thread runs through all these conversations. Growing numbers of working people in average and above average jobs cannot afford to rent or buy a home. This is not an accident; it is the direct result of bad Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael housing policy for decades.
Recently, I have spoken to many single people in their 20s who are saving every penny they can for a deposit while renting at extortionate prices and repeatedly being outbid when they put in offers by other buyers or, in some cases, institutional investors. I spoke to many couples in their 30s back living with their family, putting off having children and working hard to save money for a deposit but unable to secure a big enough loan to buy an affordable home.
I recently had a distressing conversation with a businessman in his 50s. He is a man of significant means but, following a divorce, he left the family home to his ex-wife. He was paying a portion of the mortgage as well as maintenance and he could not afford to rent, let alone buy another home. That man was sofa-surfing at the time I spoke to him. I had another upsetting phone call from a healthcare worker, a woman who has put her life at risk during Covid-19 for the good of the community. She is in her late 40s. Unfortunately, trough no fault of her own, she lost her first home after the financial crash. She was in mortgage arrears and the property was repossessed. Now she would be able to buy again but, because she is treated as a second-time buyer, the 20% deposit requirement and the length of maturity of the mortgage push ownership beyond reach.
Fianna Fáil says it is the party that builds houses but it is not building any houses for the people I am talking to. The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, tells us he believes in home ownership. Unfortunately, believing is not the same as investing in the homes these working people deserve. The cause of our housing crisis is an over-reliance on the private sector. We have developer-led planning, taxation and delivery. There is no doubt our speculative, developer-led housing system is broken. It cannot, and will not, meet the needs of ever-growing sections of our community. To add insult to injury, Government policy has allowed big investors to swallow up increasing volumes of the limited supply of family homes, denying thousands of people ownership of their own home and forcing them to rent at extortionate prices well into the future.
This has to stop. It is time for Government policy to change and the most important thing Government could do to make this change is dramatically increase capital investment. The week before budget 2019, Raise the Roof, the civil society campaign led by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, mobilised more than 10,000 people outside the Dáil. Inside the Dáil, a clear majority agreed a motion tabled by Raise the Roof Deputies to double capital investment in social and affordable home. The Minister, Deputy O'Brien, and Fianna Fáil supported that, yet budget 2019 came and went with no doubling of capital investment. Budget 2020 came and went and no doubling of capital investment. In the general election of 2020, Fianna Fáil promised to deliver 20,000 public homes every year for the lifetime of the Government, comprising 10,000 social and 10,000 affordable.
However, when the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, took the floor to introduce his first budget, that election promise was gone. The commitment to double capital investment in social and affordable homes was also gone. Instead, we had derisory increases in social and affordable housing expenditure, showing that Fine Gael was still at the steering wheel.
The motion before us is very straightforward. It states that to make a serious dent in the affordable housing crisis we must spend €2.8 billion annually to build 20,000 social and affordable homes each year for the next five years. If that is done and houses are delivered at genuinely affordable prices then we will have a Government that is starting to meet the needs of the community, but if we do not do that the crisis will continue. On that basis I commend the motion to the House and urge the Government to abandon its failed policies and start to do what everybody knows it must do.