Affordable Housing: Motion [Private Members]

I move:

That Dáil Éireann:

notes that:

— 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.

The provision of affordable housing is a fundamental duty of the State. I commend Deputy Ó Broin on all the work he has done in putting this front and centre. There is no doubt that this and previous Governments have abjectly failed in their duty to provide affordable housing. Housing has become unaffordable and the majority of workers and families are locked out. Since February 2012 house prices have doubled in Dublin. The same story is told right across the State. Since 2016, house prices have jumped by 30%, while rents have increased by 44%. In my constituency of Donegal, rents have increased by 7% in the past year alone.

Faced with this failure, the Government has been desperate to blame everybody but itself. However, it is Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael who between them have held power in the State for the past decade. Their record speaks for itself. In 2016, Fine Gael's Rebuilding Ireland housing plan promised much. It promised to deliver 2,000 affordable rental homes by 2018. The total number delivered to date amounts to zero. In 2018, the previous Government, led by Fine Gael, promised to deliver 6,000 affordable purchase homes by 2021. The total number that have been delivered to date is also zero. There has been a failure to deliver.

The housing crisis goes well beyond the issue of affordability, with the legacy of defective housing impacting countless homeowners and renters. In Donegal, thousands of homeowners are affected by mica, with their homes seriously damaged. The redress scheme requires homeowners to stump up 10% of the cost of remediation but, in reality it is far more than 10%, in some cases it is 30% and above. This has resulted in the scheme being unattainable for many families and, in short, no use to them whatsoever. Sinn Féin argued from the beginning that we need a 100% redress scheme, similar to the pyrite remediation scheme that was rolled out in Dublin and north Leinster.

Many generations now look to the future with anxiety and despair at their ability to start a family and to secure a home. Events in recent weeks have shown that the unaffordability and scarcity of housing has been compounded by the Government's own policy towards investment funds in the housing market. The block purchase of homes by an investment fund at a new development in Maynooth rightly angered the nation, as the public now know it was not an isolated incident, nor was it an accident but something that has been happening for years as a direct result of Government policy. In Dublin alone, six out of every ten new homes were snapped up by these funds in 2019, pushing struggling homeowners out of the market, driving up rent and driving up house prices. This is by design. In doing so, these funds have been facilitated by the Government through tax breaks, advantages and exemptions that leave them with a significant advantage over struggling home buyers. They also have the advantage that the State invests directly in these vulture funds. In addition, they have the benefit of paying no corporation tax on their rental profits, no capital gains tax and little by way of stamp duty.

Sinn Féin has called for years for these tax advantages to be brought to an end. Now that the Government has been caught out it is scrambling to give the appearance of action as the spotlight shines on a crisis of its own making. We will closely scrutinise the proposals the Government brings forward. Let me be clear: for the Government to in any way exclude apartments from any measures it introduces is for it to tell struggling home buyers that an apartment is not a home, and it is. It would also be telling struggling home buyers that they are not welcome in cities. These funds pay no tax on their rental profits and no tax on capital gains. Sinn Féin has called for a stamp duty surcharge. For it to have any impact it needs to be applied without exception at a rate of at least 17%, but it needs to go beyond that. We must ensure that the profits of these funds are taxed. Anything short of that simply will not cut it.

The motion before us is about making housing affordable again. It calls for doubling of direct capital investment in public housing. It also calls for annual targets to deliver cost rental and affordable purchase homes, and for every local authority in the State to deliver a minimum of 8,000 affordable units each year. Unaffordable and scarce housing is a social crisis. It really requires a change of Government to deal with it, but short of that I urge all Deputies to support this motion and start to turn the tide on this crisis.

The housing crisis has got worse and worse under the Government. A generation is being failed as we speak. A single person who wants to buy a home can forget about it. It seems like a hopeless ambition for a single parent to purchase a home. Even couples with two incomes and no dependants struggle to get a foothold on the property ladder. A generation is being squeezed out of property ownership. For many it is near impossible to get mortgage approval and for those who do get it, in many cases it is for much less than the cost of any dwelling.

House hunters who believe the State can be of assistance are cruelly let down. They would consider social housing. They work hard and they earn an average or below-average salary. They might try to get a council house or HAP or RAS support. The avenues for social housing are not clear for people whose income exceeds the income threshold of €31,500 for two adults and one child in my home county of Limerick. One could ask what they should do. It appears that the Government expects them to live at home with their parents or to rent. This generation is being bled dry. If they pay rent, they will be paying 44% more than they did in 2016. The average rent in Limerick is €1,293 a month, a 6.3% increase on last year. How are they meant to pay such astronomical rents while saving for a deposit for a house when house prices have increased by 30% over the same five-year period? The median property price in Limerick, as of March 2021, was €220,000.

We need to get house prices under control. To date, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have failed. We need a massive delivery of social and affordable housing. We must provide it because a generation of renters and adult children who are being forced to remain living with their parents cannot afford to wait. The Government must step up to the mark and take significant action on the rental crisis and the delivery of affordable and social housing. The Government must deliver at least 8,000 affordable houses each year and 4,000 affordable purchase houses each year. A first step to demonstrate that this is not the case is to stop the sale and gifting of public lands to private developers and to use this land to build public homes like the type I grew up in. I fear however that the current Minister is not up to the task. He has progressed with his failed housing policy. On the main title under his remit he has failed consistently. I conclude my comments by urging those who want to see an end to the housing crisis to support the motion and assure that this generation is failed no longer.

Countless people have contacted my office about the lack of affordable housing in counties Cavan and Monaghan. Perhaps the Minister could advise me on what to say when constituents contact me wondering what they should do when the local authority informs them that they are over the threshold for social housing. Perhaps they have got a few extra shifts at work or had their hours increased and so they no longer qualify for social housing. However, that means they no longer qualify for any sort of housing support payment, but they cannot afford to rent a property at the current market values. They have a decision to make, and it frequently results in them turning down work or extra shifts or refusing to claim a social welfare payment to which they are entitled because they must restrict their income in order to qualify for social housing or, to be more exact, qualify for social housing supports. They are individuals or couples who are quite happy to work and to increase their hours to support themselves and their families. They would quite happily rent privately but they cannot afford to do so. The alternative is for them to try to squash in with parents, which is not always an option or to become homeless. Even properties of a very low standard that are dark, damp and mouldy and do not have sufficient space are being rented to families and individuals for exorbitant rents. These are places that no one would rent if they had any sort of choice. They are houses that are in bad condition and that are bad for people's health and for their physical and mental well-being, but they have no choice.

To rent a three-bed property in Cavan costs approximately €900 per month. According to the Residential Tenancies Board, average rents in Cavan have risen by 27% in four years and in Monaghan by 17%. Couples whose relationship has ended are being forced to continue living together as they cannot afford to live in separate dwellings due to lack of availability and affordability.

There are no properties of any description available at any cost in my constituency. Last week, a constituent told me there were six properties available for rent and she could afford none of them. Action has to be taken to deal with this problem because it is getting worse and worse and people are worried and stressed out about how to afford the rent. They are being forced into poverty.

The Minister must begin a programme of building affordable houses for rent and for purchase. Housing need throughout this country is at crisis point and action needs to be taken. From listening to young people, they have told me they are going to emigrate because they cannot afford any reasonable standard of living in this country.

I commend Deputy Eoin Ó Broin for this motion on housing and for all the work he has done around this issue. The inability to purchase new homes because they are unaffordable is nothing new to residents living in Dublin Bay South. Young working families have not been able to purchase affordable homes for a long time. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Amazon and now TikTok have all moved into Ringsend, the Pearse Street area and right across south Dublin. As they have moved in, the prices of buying and renting even modest homes have gone through the roof. Earlier this year, Deputy Ó Broin got information under freedom of information which showed that the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage was told that Dublin City Council was under pressure to secure the funds to purchase the two sites where the affordable and public housing will be situated on the Irish Glass Bottle Company site. It is reported that many working in Dublin City Council housing section seem to doubt whether affordable homes can be delivered on the Irish Glass Bottle Company site, and even if they are delivered, it seems they will not be affordable to ordinary working families. They may be affordable to the high paid executives working in the tech companies but not to young working families who have to continue to live with their parents or pay huge rents that prevent them from saving for a home.

In June of last year, on NewsTalk, the Minister said that he would be looking at house prices in the region of €160,000 to €180,000, and from €230,000 to €250,000 on a shared equity basis. Now, it seems the affordable homes, if delivered in Ringsend, Harolds Cross or right across south Dublin and Dublin city, will be in the region of €450,000. That cannot possibly be classed as affordable. How can ordinary working families ever hope to buy a house in the community they went to school in? The Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group, which has campaigned tirelessly for affordable homes on the Irish Glass Bottle Company site, is extremely concerned that people will not be able to afford affordable housing there, that is if there is any affordable housing because the €450,000 clearly cannot be reached by many people who have grown up and lived in the community. The Minister needs to state clearly that there will be affordable homes on the Irish Glass Bottle Company site and that they will not cost €450,000. We need to make homes affordable again.

I commend Deputy Eoin Ó Broin. Urgent action is needed if the Government is not to condemn another generation to a yet more precarious rental situation. It goes beyond indifference to describe successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Governments' attitude to housing. Do not get me started on Labour and the Greens. They acted as a mudguard when policies were introduced that stopped the building of public houses on public land. They would have us believe they did nothing.

Last year, we had an election at which housing was one of the main issues raised at the doors. The people who voted in that election wanted action and what they got was indifference and inaction. We have revelation after revelation that shows that the Government is working against the people. On the one hand, it pretends to do something about it and, on the other, it is investing in the very cuckoo funds that have moved into the nest of the first-time buyers, and the very vulture funds that are picking at the carcass of any of the hopes of ordinary workers of renting or owning their own homes.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to buy a home, given the cost of housing has increased by 30% since 2016, while the cost of renting has increased by 44% in the same period. The Government announces plans to great fanfare but it has not delivered. In 2016, Rebuilding Ireland promised to deliver 2,000 affordable rental homes by 2018. To date, not a single affordable rental home has been delivered.

It does not have to be this way. Sinn Féin in government will turn housing policy away from benefiting vulture funds and other institutional investors and developers and will turn the tide back in favour of ordinary workers and ordinary families. The Government does not want to solve the housing crisis. It would not suit the cosy cartel of Government Deputies and their investments or their actual involvement in these vultures. I am inundated with emails from people who are biding their time until the next election. The dogs in the street know that this Government cannot solve this crisis. It should stand aside and let somebody do it who can do it.

I move amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:

“acknowledges the extensive range of measures included in the Programme for Government: Our Shared Future, building on the initiatives already undertaken and in progress, which will be brought forward to support individuals and families to access affordable housing and, in particular, welcomes:

- that in 2021, the Government set forward the largest housing budget in the history of the State;

- that in 2021, the Government set the most ambitious social housing targets on record;

- that Budget 2021 committed an unprecedented €620 million in affordability measures;

- the expansion of the Help to Buy scheme to €30,000;

- that in July 2021, the Government will deliver the first Cost Rental units in the history of the State;

- that affordable homes for purchase will be made available for purchase from this year;

- the investment of over €1.2 billion in the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, to unlock development in cities and towns around the country this year; and

- the Government’s commitment to putting affordability at the heart of the housing system; and

fully supports:

- the most comprehensive legislation dealing solely with affordability in the history of the State through the Affordable Housing Bill 2021, which is currently progressing through Seanad Éireann;

- the key elements of the Affordable Housing Bill 2021, encompassing local authority led affordable homes, Cost Rental units, the Affordable Purchase Shared Equity scheme and expanding the provisions made under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000;

- the Land Development Agency Bill 2021, as a seminal change in how we manage public land and strategic planning, which is at Committee Stage in Dáil Éireann;

- the implementation of the commitments in the Programme for Government: Our Shared Future to:

- extend the Serviced Sites Fund, which is intended to deliver 6,200 new affordable homes by bringing forward proposals to expand the scope and potential of the fund to accelerate the delivery of affordable homes by local authorities;

- provide seed capital to local authorities to provide serviced sites at cost in towns and villages to allow individuals and families build homes; and

- expand the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan; and

- the development of the Housing for All plan due to be published this summer, setting out a comprehensive new vision for housing in Ireland, putting affordable homeownership back at its heart with ambitious multi-annual funding and specific targets.

I wish to share time with Deputies Emer Higgins and Colm Burke.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I apologise that the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, cannot be present as he is currently at Cabinet.

The Government is opposing the motion. The Government firmly believes that home ownership is good for individuals, good for families, good for communities and good for the State. With this in mind, we have put affordability and the chance to own a home at the very heart of our housing policy. The Affordable Housing Bill, which was introduced to the Oireachtas just last night, and the Land Development Agency Bill 2021 will work together to deliver affordable homes. These two landmark pieces of legislation are backed up by the largest housing budget in the history of the State, with €3.3 billion in 2021. Some €620 million has been made available for affordability measures.

The Affordable Housing Bill has four key new elements: first, the first local authority-led direct build affordable homes on State lands in over a decade; second, our first ever national cost rental scheme; third, an innovative shared equity scheme; and fourth, the expanding of Part V and designating of units for first-time buyers. This element will be brought in on Committee Stage in Dáil Éireann following the conclusion of further work with the Attorney General and Cabinet approval. Using the Bill as its foundation, the upcoming "Housing for All" plan, which will be published this summer, will set out the ambitious range of affordable housing targets across the country.

The roll-out of local authority-led direct build affordable housing will be the central plank of the Government’s plans. Homes will range from €160,000 to €310,000. We are working with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and will shortly bring forward improvements to the €310 million serviced sites fund to ensure it can effectively fund major delivery in the State.

The Government committed to improving rental security and affordability by developing the often proposed cost rental model. We have now done this. I am pleased that the development of cost rental has been widely welcomed, including by the Opposition. Through careful controls and the deployment of public subsidies, rents which cover costs can be at least 25% below market rates, and generally 30%. This is an entirely new form of housing tenure and an exciting departure for housing in Ireland.

In February, we announced approval for the financing of 390 new homes located in Dublin, the surrounding greater Dublin area and Cork under the cost rental equity loan scheme. These homes are funded by €35 million made available in budget 2021. A further €100 million in long-term, low-interest loans has been made available by the Housing Finance Agency.

Shared equity will involve the State bridging the affordability gap by taking an equity stake of up to 20% between an individual’s mortgage limits and the price of the home. It will work in conjunction with the help to buy scheme to get people into homes this year. It will help turn generation rent into a generation that can buy their own home. It is intended that this scheme will be a short-term, targeted measure as part of a much broader multifaceted approach to increasing housing supply and affordability in the State. It will increase viability and generate supply to provide an immediate boost to first-time buyers for new homes. Taking on board legitimate concerns, safeguards are being built in to tailor eligibility to meet individual affordability needs only and to manage prices through area-based price ceilings.

It is also our intention to bring forward further changes to further strengthen the Affordable Housing Bill at Committee stage. This will include expanding Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and designating a range of units for first-time buyers. Work is underway with the Attorney General to bring these amendments forward to level the playing field for first-time buyers.

In addition, the Land Development Agency Bill is being advanced and will have a crucially important and increasing role in the delivery of more affordable homes. This will include homes for affordable purchase and cost rental, but it will also include social housing.

We are in the middle of a national housing crisis. Faced with such an emergency we need to use all tools at our disposal to address this challenge across both the private and public sectors. We need to stop letting one party’s perfect be the enemy of everyone’s good when facing a crisis. Magic bullet fantasies and cynical hysteria politics do a generation locked in a rent trap a grave disservice. We are very much aware of the breadth of the task that is facing us in this area, and are determined to take on this challenge. The Government is confident that the extensive range of measures that our three parties are introducing will increase the housing supply in the State and make housing more affordable for people across the country, and as such I reiterate our proposed revisions to the motion.

Home ownership has become a pipe dream for many my age. That is the sad reality. Young people feel hopeless and locked out of the housing market. This is fundamentally wrong and must change. That is why I am so glad this Government is committed to changing that and has backed up that commitment with historic investment. We want to make renting and home ownership accessible, affordable and achievable for everyone. In the past year we have taken five major steps towards that. We extended the help-to-buy scheme for first-time buyers and we brought in the Land Development Agency to kick start the delivery of homes on public land. We will extend the Part V obligations to include 10% affordable housing as well as 10% social and shortly we will pass the Affordable Housing Bill to give people the opportunity to own their own home or to avail of secure, affordable long-term leases. I am not sure if Sinn Féin has supported even one of those milestone measures. Instead it is focused on delay tactics, on fairytale economics and on impractical ideology that results not in homes but in Sinn Féin councillors voting against homes on public land, over 5,000 homes in Dublin City Council alone in less than two years.

We all agree that international investment funds should not be competing with first-time buyers for three and four-bed family homes but we should not be naive either about where foreign investment is needed. We need to produce in excess of 35,000 homes a year over the next ten years at a cost of €10 billion a year. We can invest €3 billion or €4 billion in State funding every year but where will we find the €6 billion short fall without external investment? The Sinn Féin motion seems built on the idea that we should borrow €6 billion every year for ten years but with the balance sheet of about €266 billion, that is just not practical. The Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, is bringing forward legislation to address the issue of investment funds competing with first-time buyers. Will Sinn Féin support that or will it stick with its tried and tested policy of delay and oppose? Will it back the Affordable Housing Bill or will it vote against it on the pretence that one strand of the Bill will not work, despite it supporting that strand in the North and overseeing its operation? There it calls it a success, here it brands it a fantasy. The truth is the policy of opposition for the sake of opposition will deliver nothing for anybody. Our aim is to solve the housing crisis and get people into homes. It is something I am committed to and I believe the Government is deeply committed to.

I very much support what the Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, set out. It is important to realise that the reason for the housing challenge in this country is that the number of people working here has increased by over 400,000 since 2011. The housing market does not respond immediately to demand. From the time of identifying a site to putting in planning and going through the planning process to building is approximately three years. For the market to respond to demand takes anything up to three to four years. It is also difficult in Ireland where the process is far too long, particularly when there is such a huge range of opportunities for people to object and delay the process which is not helpful in the delivery of housing. It is also important that we realise that despite all the economic challenges from 2011 and 2016, from then houses did become available. In the last four years, over 73,000 new residential units were built. That is not often acknowledged. Yes, there are challenges but look at the changes in that four years, where we went from 14,000 in a year to over 21,000. Were it not for the pandemic, last year we probably would have delivered up to 25,000 residential units.

We must give every possible assistance to people to buy their own homes. I can remember as far back as the 1980s when people with very little back up support were able to buy their houses. We need to make sure that all the mechanisms are there to help first-time buyers acquire their own home and have the security and safety of knowing they do not have to face increased rents in the long term.

Increasing house prices along with high rents are proving a major road block for families, workers and those who want to get on the property ladder. We are in a housing emergency and this cannot be stated often enough. It is a man-made crisis perpetuated by successive Governments and their failed policies and ideologies. This Government is no exception. It is continuing to put forward failed policies and strategies. The Minister has put forward housing proposals which will not deliver social and affordable housing on the scale required or even houses that are affordable. The Government's view of what is affordable goes beyond what most couples on good incomes can actually afford to buy. The Minister's housing plans, which include schemes such as the shared equity scheme, lack ambition, will inflate house prices, increase personal debt and go against expert opinion. His proposals were strongly condemned as ill-conceived by housing associations, housing experts and economic organisations, yet they were robustly defended by local Fianna Fáil Deputies despite all the evidence to the contrary. Now, with the public backlash, these very same Fianna Fáil Deputies are imploring the Minister to revise his proposals. We need to get away on the reliance on private developers building social and affordable housing. The Minister's policies pander to the private sector and to the very vulture funds and similar which can avail of significant grants and tax exemptions, allowing them to buy up whole housing estates. In my constituency of Dublin North-West a company which bought a whole housing estate in Kildare is now buying up entire apartment blocks in Santry to rent them out. This is also happening in other areas of the constituency and every day I hear from my constituents of their frustrations as they try to get on the property ladder. Investment funds are driving up property prices and rents. Local authorities should be the drivers behind the building of social and affordable housing, not private developers. In my constituency, lands belonging to local authorities have been identified around Finglas, Ballymun, Whitehall and Santry where housing can be built at an affordable cost. The only winners from the Minister's proposals will be the investment funds and private developers and the losers will be the families and young couples looking for affordable housing.

The housing crisis has hit workers and families in my county of Meath extremely hard.

According to the latest rental report, the average rent in Meath is now €1,415, up 4.9% on the figure for this time last year. Rents are 118% higher than they were at their lowest point a few years ago. The monthly rent people are paying is double what a mortgage repayment would be. I am a renter myself. Many younger people are still living with their parents or sharing a house with others to try to keep rent affordable. Families cannot settle in one area because they have to move on when their leases expire. People have no security of tenure. There are thousands on the housing list in Meath and 157 people in the county remain homeless, according to the latest figures. This did not happen by chance. This housing crisis is a direct result of the terrible housing policies pursued by Fine Gael over the past decade and voted through by Fianna Fáil over the years of its disastrous confidence and supply agreement. People are totally locked out of the housing market and have zero confidence that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will fix the problem because they know those parties' policies caused it.

In my county, Meath, the proposal is to dezone hundreds of acres of land. The county has delivered housing. It certainly has not delivered affordable housing but it has delivered housing in recent years. There are proposals to dezone hundreds of acres of land. The Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, mentioned that it takes three years to deliver houses from start to finish. On 1 July 2016, the Rebuilding Ireland programme proposed a council housing development on public land at the Coláiste De Lacy site in Ashbourne. Those houses will be delivered in quarter 1 of 2023, seven years later. With the Department of Education working with the local authority, that is how long it takes this Government to deliver on housing. That says everything we need to know about its commitment to delivering public housing on public land. It is not serious about it and will never do it.

I thank my constituency colleague, Deputy Ó Broin, not only for tabling this motion but also for writing a blueprint for how to fix the housing crisis caused by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. He has put forward solutions that will allow workers and families to put a secure roof over their heads. Only last week, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael voted against giving renters a break. To compound this, they also voted to allow vultures to continue to pick at the flesh of ordinary workers and families who are desperate for a home.

We need to get housing prices under control after years of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael failures and give first-time buyers a chance. A price of €400,000 is not affordable in anybody's language. We need to make sure that families whose housing needs have changed are not left languishing in overcrowded homes. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil housing policies have created a perfect storm that has denied workers and families a secure home. The cost of housing has increased by 30% since 2016 and the cost of renting has increased by 44% in the same period. I first became a public representative in 2016 and do not need a calculator to work out how many affordable houses were built in my area, Dublin Mid-West, since then. It is a big, fat zero.

The Government has broken a social contract with its citizens. Owing to systemic failures by successive Governments, we do not meet the housing needs of citizens. Young people are particularly affected by the Government's failures. An ESRI report found that young people are experiencing wage stagnation and warned that the housing crisis is exacerbating their situation. It is predicted that this will be the first generation who will never be able to own their own homes unless changes in housing policies occur that put people before vultures. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael created the housing crisis and are not equipped to fix it. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again looking for different results. It is time for change, and Sinn Féin will deliver it. We will deliver housing that everyone can access.

I hear Deputies on the other side of the House talk about opposition for opposition's sake. It is such nonsense. There are very few Opposition spokespersons who have produced work of the same quality and detail as that of Deputy Ó Broin, with its constructive, realistic and costed alternatives, including in this motion, many policy documents and legislation. The fact is that where there are good sections or proposals in Government legislation, they will be backed. They have been backed, and the record of the Dáil will reflect that. There have been many disastrous proposals. Such proposals will be voted against. Our job is to ensure that the Government will not follow in the footsteps of Governments that produced, probably over 20 years, failed housing policy that has brought us to our current position. Those who talk about opposition for its own sake do not believe it themselves. They do not believe a word of it because they know what Sinn Féin and the people want, namely affordable housing. The criticism is part of a strategy that is misconceived and will not work. By-election candidates talk about trying to be a voice for people who cannot afford a house but Fine Gael has been in government since 2011. There is a new series of "Reeling in the Years" but we would have to go back to the start of it to see when Fine Gael was not in government. Fine Gael has had years to solve this, yet it has representatives standing up railing and saying they will be the voice for people who cannot afford their own homes.

People do not want much sometimes. What they want from the Government is the ability to live a quality life. At the heart of that is having the opportunity to work, obtain qualifications, serve one's time, go to college or otherwise, all with the aspiration of building a life for oneself and one's family. People going out to work today, however, cannot see how they are ever going to reach that. They may not qualify for social housing. The eligibility criteria in this regard are getting tighter all the time. Homeownership is becoming increasingly out of reach, no matter how hard people work. The reality is that the solution is about public homes on public land, and no end of tax breaks for vulture funds or cuckoo funds will crack it. Until the Government brings forward proposals that will work, we will not back them. We are going to back the proposals that do work.

The last speaker has cracked it; the answer is "public housing on public land". It was a potent sentence. We all know it is not easy to deliver the housing but it needs to be delivered.

I got involved in political activism because of the housing issue in 2008. Circumstances have evolved since then, and we are where we are. We have a homelessness crisis that is beyond comprehension, an affordability crisis that beggars belief and a supply crisis that shows no sign of being resolved. It is an absolute catastrophe and an indictment of successive Governments. I accept that my party was in one of the more recent Governments. The current position is an indictment of the last Government and the current one, in particular. There is only so far back in history one can go; eventually one will have to take responsibility. I refer to successive budgets, housing policies, planning policies and planning Acts. The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the current Government.

The people are angry. I got involved in politics in 2008 and was first elected in 2014. I was a public representative in a local authority for over five years and I have been in this House for a year and a half so I have seen a bit. When we look under the bonnet of politics in general and at how we deal with housing, we realise it is really shameful. It is perfectly understandable why people are so angry. They hear politicians object to housing. Some object for very good reasons and others for dubious reasons. People hear politicians objecting to Traveller housing, social housing, high-rise developments, large estates and medium-sized estates. There will always be a reason. Some of the reasons may be valid as there may be violations of master plans and objectives, and we all reserve the right to protect these and to speak to them and to democratic processes, but many of the reasons are not valid.

Many are purely to protect votes in their own backyard. That is the reality. Politicians have to be honest with themselves. Bills were presented to the Oireachtas last night which we believe will not solve the affordability crisis. We supported the Land Development Agency Bill on Second Stage because we believe in the concept of a land development agency but we have little faith that it will do what needs to be done. We all need to take responsibility. This is another good motion presented by Deputy Ó Broin. There is much good in it but people, who are angry, will look at mud being slung from side to side of the Dáil. I refer to an article by a friend of mine, Conor Sheehan, who is a county councillor in Limerick. It was in the Irish Examiner today. I know he is a county councillor, working in politics, but Conor is essentially a worker, like everyone else, who earns an average income like everyone else. He does not have a permanent pensionable job but he is a worker who is working hard and is performing his side of the social contract. He is not getting anywhere and he is not able to afford a home. He is doing everything right.

I mention him because he is based in Limerick. There is sometimes a focus on the housing crisis as a Dublin issue. Maybe it is felt more acutely because Dublin is the most expensive place to live or rent in the country. Our media and many of our politicians, and so on, are based here. Our housing and affordability crisis, which affects young people, is in every county in this State. People are furious. On the road I grew up on in Finglas, when you look at the houses there, there were people who worked in Superquinn, in the local pub, painters and decorators, retired people, porters in banks, glazers, people who worked in hospitals, electricians, nurses and a postman. A whole gamut people lived there and were able to afford a mortgage on a decent home in a good area. If I went and asked them, none would say that they got that easily. They worked hard for it. They followed the pathway that was there and, ultimately, they got what they worked hard for. The difference now is that people are working as hard as they did in the past but the State is not living up to its obligations. It is failing on every single level. People's anger is palpable. It is difficult when one sees the social contract being broken in such an egregious way.

How do we go about fixing this system? We need to go back to the Kenny report and its recommendations. We know we are going back in time but we need to look at the price of land and how to tackle that. The recommendations of the Kenny report need to be implemented. If they are to be challenged, let them be challenged. It is there and too many Governments have ignored it or not tested it. That cannot go on. We will promote this in the coming weeks and look for support. We need to link up secure work, trade union membership density and the living wage with the ability to afford a home. That ability is lacking and the insecurity of work, low pay and poor conditions are impacting people's ability to afford a home.

We need to reorient our thinking along those lines as a State. As has been mentioned so much over the last weeks, we need to kick the cuckoo funds and for-profit investment funds out of this area. They are causing corrosive damage, not only with the bulk purchasing of new estates, but their activity in the second-hand housing market is going under the radar and is having a significant impact that I believe is not being measured accordingly. They are going in to take houses before they even hit the market, so first-time buyers or people downsizing are not even aware that these houses would have been available to them. That has to end. There is certainly unanimous agreement in the Opposition on that but I believe that the vast majority of individuals in Government have to believe that this needs to end.

We need State investment in affordable housing at scale, as is mentioned in this motion. There is no other way around it. We want to be able to support the affordable housing Bill, as mentioned by our spokesperson, Senator Moynihan, last night. We will have a lot of difficulty because there is a fundamental flaw in the Bill, which is its failure to provide a definition of affordability linked to income. This one flaw cuts the credibility of the affordable housing Bill in half. As Senator Moynihan said last night, we should call it what it is, which is a market discount Bill. When one sees a Bill such as this being presented at a time when a three-bed apartment in the proposed O'Devaney Gardens development is being presented for €420,000, one gets a sense of just how crazy, how wrong and failing this system is. This Bill will not resolve that. The shared equity portion of the Bill, despite all the voices beyond politics, including the Economic and Social Research Institute and other agencies raising issues, and the examples of it failing to work in other jurisdictions, still remains part of this Bill.

First-time buyers, young people and workers are watching the debates in the Dáil. They are not just looking at this via social media, Twitter or Facebook. They are watching the actual debates on Oireachtas TV. They will be as angry after this debate as they are after every other debate and every week that goes by without any progress, with every Bill that is presented that they know will not solve the problem. There is a lost generation. With the way things are going, we could have two lost generations. We, as this small island with a relatively small population on the west coast of Europe, are failing again with a key issue, which is the provision of affordable, secure housing for the island's people. I do not want to be anywhere, whether here or on a bar stool, having this same conversation in ten years in front of a Ceann Comhairle or a friend. This has to be resolved straight away.

Following on from what Deputy Smith said, there is significant anger and it is not just from young people. People in their 30s and 40s who would have aspired to own a home and in previous generations, working hard, saving and putting their shoulder to a wheel, would have been able to afford a home, are increasingly angry about this and about being locked out of home ownership. Older generations are angry about this. I remember the number of people I met during the election campaign who told me about how, when they were younger, they were able to afford a home and how angry they were that they had their grown-up children and grandchildren in the box rooms and the worry that they had for them. They were angry that the social contract that they had, which they expected for their children and grandchildren, has been ripped up.

This has happened because of the choices and decisions made at a Government level. None of this is an accident. I have several issues with the Government's approach to housing. A specific issue that is unforgivable when it comes to housing policy is that the Government will not listen to mainstream, independent advice. I can understand if the Government does not listen to people in the Opposition and dismisses it, which is the Government's own prerogative, but not to listen to its own advice from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Central Bank and the ESRI is unforgivable. They have specifically advised that the shared equity scheme in the Government's affordable housing Bill will drive up house prices. It is an indisputable fact that they have advised that. Another indisputable fact about the shared equity scheme that the Government is putting forward is that it was lobbied for by developers. One can see that if one looks through the lobbying register. That was where the idea came from.

It was not in any of the parties' manifestos in the last general election. Another undisputable fact is that, when a shared equity scheme was introduced in the UK, it caused the profits of the larger developers and builders in the UK to soar. Their profit levels went through the roof. These are three undisputable facts.

When the Government is making its decisions regarding housing, what is missing in its approach is a realisation of the great human cost of housing unaffordability and insecurity for people and families. It creates incredible stress. It causes delays in the formation of families as people put off having children. People do not know whether their children will be able to stay in their school or if they will have to move. This is heart-wrenching for parents who have quieter children or children with additional needs. It may have taken them a couple of years to get them settled into school and to get them to a point at which they are comfortable and have friends. The stress caused by housing unaffordability and insecurity in the private rented sector is heart-wrenching. Of course, if it wanted to, Government could tackle this latter issue straight away. It could bring in improvements and security of tenure for renters. It could do that straight away. Parents face heart-wrenching stress and anxiety because, having gone through everything to settle their kids in a school, they just do not know if they will be uprooted and have to move away again. It might take years for their children to again form friendships, to get involved in local GAA clubs and so on. I wonder if this was considered properly at all.

Let us look at the role of institutional investment funds. We have heard reports in the media over recent days as to what the Government is planning to do in this area. We have heard about measures that would be completely and utterly insufficient to deal with this problem. The planning measures the Government are floating and talking about will not, in effect, kick in for several years. Planning permission was secured for Mullen Park in Maynooth in 2014. That is when the process there started. One might be looking at delays of four, five or six years in respect of many developments that have been given planning permission. We also know the Government does not believe the very limited planning protections being talked about should apply to higher-density developments or apartments. It does not believe the families and individuals who live in apartments should have the same rights as those who live in lower-density housing.

We do not yet know what the Government intends to do with regard to stamp duty but I would be surprised if it brought in the sorts of measures needed, for example, a rate equivalent to that in the UK, where it is 15%, and surcharges for investment funds and companies investing in properties worth more than £500,000. At a minimum, these are the sorts of measures at which the Government should be looking with regard to stamp duty, but it would not be enough. Really, the Government should be looking at rent levels, especially for new-build developments. If one wants to tackle the very high yields investment funds make from buying up properties here and renting them out, one needs to look at the rent levels. That would be a proper deterrent and would also provide more affordable rents for people. With regard to institutional investment funds, the Government and State are playing a key role in that, through the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, they are using public funds, State funds, to buy up property though investment funds. These investment funds the State finance may build themselves or they may buy up property. That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Earlier today, I cited an example. Activate Capital has put State funds, provided by the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, into a housing development in Blackhall Place. Dublin City Council then agreed long-term leases on these same homes, homes which were at least part-financed by State funds, and has guaranteed rents of €2,000 per month per home. This is an absolutely unacceptable use of public money. It is inflating home prices while agreeing these sweetheart deals on long-term leases. It is completely unacceptable.

It is worth noting that the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers has said that the Government should seek discounts of approximately 50% on market values when negotiating long-term leases for houses and discounts of 30% for apartments. What sort of discount does the Government look for? It looks for a discount of between 5% and 10% on full market rates when industry sources say that we should be going for something in the region of 50%. We also know from responses to freedom of information requests I have made that, in some cases, the State did not even look for an independent valuation in respect of market rates. The State just signed up on the basis of the valuations given by the developer. One really could not make it up. The Government is ploughing in these great sums of money while not seeking value for money, not attempting to drive down rents and not trying to ensure housing affordability.

As to what needs to be done in this regard, there is no question at all but that the recommendations of the Kenny report should be implemented without delay to drive down the price of development land. That is what the Land Development Agency should be doing. It should be assembling land for affordable housing and affordable homes. Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance has proven that genuinely affordable homes can be built if land is made available. That is what the Land Development Agency should be doing but that is not the Bill the Government is bringing before us with regard to the agency. Instead there are all sorts of revisions to the Land Development Agency. For example, it will be allowed to take land from public bodies and, if it does not use it, it will be allowed to sell it off to a private third-party developer. Why include that provision in the Bill if it is not something the Government wants to use? Why not provide safeguards by removing those sorts of clauses from the Bill? We will know if the Government is in any way serious about this because, if it is, it will remove those clauses from the Bill straight away.

People are very angry about this. There is a responsibility on all of us to make sure we do everything we can to address this issue. The Government should really start by listening to mainstream independent advice in this area. It should listen to such advice and drop the shared equity scheme. That would be a good start.

I will be sharing my time. I will take seven minutes and Deputy Barry will take three. I thank Deputy Ó Broin for using his party's Private Members' time to bring up this important discussion on affordable housing. It is very difficult to know where to start with the Government's narrative. It comes in here and says that the Opposition just criticises for the sake of criticising and that we have no constructive proposals. That is such a dishonest narrative. I am really quite sick of it at this stage. The Government continues to play politics with this issue, which is a crisis for great numbers of people. The majority of people are now affected by the crises in housing and affordability or by the extortionate cost of rent in one way or another. The vast majority of working people cannot afford the prices at which the market is delivering, or not delivering, houses or the rents being charged. They are simply unaffordable for the vast majority of people.

Rather than acknowledging the mess it has made of this, the Government keeps firing back dishonest criticism at the Opposition. Every single year since I got into the Dáil, People Before Profit has submitted an alternative budget. Since year one, 2011, we have been warning about the Government's policies on housing, and particularly its decision to sell off all the NAMA properties. We had the opportunity to take control of this land bank and to deal with the housing crisis by delivering affordable housing on a massive scale. In 2011, we warned that the Government was making a disastrous decision.

In that year, the same Fine Gael-Labour Party Government made a decision, one that was also criticised by us, to stop the capital construction programme of public housing and outsource the delivery of social housing to the private sector. In what was essentially a counter-revolution in social housing, social housing was transformed overnight into social housing support, which was code for outsourcing it to the private sector. These two decisions - offloading the NAMA portfolio and stopping the building of council housing - have led to this disastrous situation. It is not just a disaster for the 70,000 to 100,000 families on social housing waiting lists. If the State is not delivering public and affordable housing on its own land, it means that the for-profit entities - vulture funds, cuckoos and speculators - control the market, prices and rents, destroying things for everyone. The public land bank is the way to dampen the market and have a counterbalance to these unaffordable rents and property prices.

I should add to this debate the banks, which have not been mentioned yet. In 2019, the Central Bank pointed out that people in Ireland were paying €80,000 more in interest on an average mortgage of €300,000 than their European counterparts were. This is another component of the unaffordability issue. The banks that we bailed out are essentially extorting their mortgage customers with the highest interest rates anywhere in Europe.

How do we solve this crisis? We should do the exact opposite of what the Government is doing. People Before Profit has been saying this in budget submission after budget submission since I entered the Dáil in 2011. We should use the public land bank to deliver public and affordable housing directly. Affordability must not have anything to do with the market. The whole point of affordability is that it should be related to someone's income. If it is related to market conditions or market prices, it is not about affordability, but something else. If we want to unravel the mystery of why the Government, despite making announcement after announcement about affordable housing for five years or God knows how long, has not delivered a single affordable house, there is a simple reason. The same property developers the Government is talking to and being lobbied by - we have now discovered that the Government is giving them hundreds of millions of euro and designing laws in order to involve them further in public land banks through the Land Development Agency - do not want houses being sold at affordable levels. If they were trying to flog houses at €400,000 or €500,000 but the State was building €180,000 or €200,000 houses, who would buy houses from them? The Government should not care about them. It should care about delivering housing. This can be done on public land at rates that are affordable. It would drive the speculators, vulture funds, cuckoos and so on crazy, however, which is why the Government does not do it and we either do not get affordable housing or get "affordable" housing that is unaffordable. The cap in Dublin will be €450,000. The Minister called it a local area ceiling price cap, but that would defeat the whole point of affordability if the cap is based on market conditions in Dublin, which are off the Richter scale. The cap must be about income. A teacher, nurse, council worker or retail worker does not earn a higher wage just because he or she happens to live in Dublin where rents and property prices are higher. Affordability has to be linked to the actual incomes that ordinary workers earn, and the average income in this country is approximately €40,000 per year, with many earning much less. Rents and mortgages have to be set at actual affordable levels. This means rent controls where local authorities tell landlords that they are not allowed to charge more than a certain amount for a property. The rent would have to be affordable for the incomes of ordinary workers.

We have proposed solutions. They could be used, but the truth is that the Government is not interested because it is dancing to the tune of the speculators, vultures and investment funds that want to profit from the housing crisis and have no interest in solving it.

I wish to address the emergency legislation that will be considered tonight by the Cabinet. The Irish Times has posted a report that the Cabinet is considering the idea of increasing stamp duty to 10% on multiple purchases and that multiple purchases would be defined as the purchase of more than ten houses. In the case of a €250,000 house, the ordinary house buyer would pay stamp duty of €2,500 whereas the investment fund would pay stamp duty of €25,000. We can set that against a recent comment in the Business Post to the effect that approved housing bodies had in some cases been outbid by up to €80,000 per house over the preceding four weeks. If that report is anywhere near the truth, it indicates that the Government's proposal falls well short of what is necessary.

The Dáil has heard reports of the UK Government introducing a 15% stamp duty rate for investment funds, a measure that had to be strengthened before it did the job that it was meant to do. If I were the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, I would simply ban investment funds from snapping up houses in housing estates. If we are going to take the stamp duty route, though, we need to go well beyond 10%. Why not have a stamp duty rate of 100%? No ordinary person would be affected by that, as he or she would not be buying multiple houses in the current market. Why has the Government set the number at more than ten houses? What ordinary person is going to buy seven, eight or nine houses? If we are going to stop speculation in the housing market, the number should be much lower than ten. The legislation must apply to apartments and existing developments, cover corporation tax and capital gains tax for the vultures, and include not only stamp duty increases but also increases in the rent roll.

I thank Sinn Féin for using its Private Members' time to table this motion. Over the past week, the housing crisis has come back to front and centre on the political agenda. We have had much debate about cuckoo funds, vulture funds and housing policy. The Minister has said that he is committed to providing family homes - semi-detached or detached houses with front and back gardens, as he declared on air with Ms Claire Byrne last week. The truth of the matter is that all of this is rhetoric. Fine Gael wants people to live in apartments, duplex-type units or terraced housing with no gardens. No one in the House would dispute that our children and our children's children will aspire to live in semi-detached or detached houses with front and back gardens where they can rear their families in a reasonable space. This is most people's aspiration for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, the problem appears to be that the Government does not realise that our planning policy, as enunciated in ministerial guidelines, provides for few family homes, and certainly not on the scale of 20,000 that we hear politicians speaking about in the national media.

A most astonishing statistic struck me last week but got no coverage in the media. Out of 16,000 units that received planning permission from An Bord Pleanála, only 4,334 were houses. Of those, only 1,200 were semi-detached or detached family homes.

That is an astonishing figure for a Government that is committed to building family homes. It is extraordinary that the penny has not dropped with either the Government or the media that planning permissions are not being granted for family homes because planning policy prevents that from happening. Last week, it further became clear that the only reason the Government was upset about cuckoo funds was that those funds had started buying family homes.

There are many issues surrounding the supply of housing, including planning policy, funding and viability. Apartments and duplex-type units are not viable beyond the M50. There are many strategic housing development, SHD, permissions that have not been implemented simply because there is no demand for the flats and duplexes for which permission was granted. An issue that seems to escape everybody in this House is that we will have to build family homes to solve the housing crisis. However, Government policy is mostly opposed to family homes. I ask anyone who disagrees with me to read specific planning policy requirement, SPPR, 4 of the ministerial guidelines on building heights, which states that two-storey and own-door houses should be avoided. If we are to have supply of family homes, we must immediately start amending planning policy. We need to allow houses to be developed at ten units per acre beyond the M50. We know for certain that this type of medium-density housing is what our constituents and their families want. It is what planners outside Dublin want. Such development is buildable, fundable and viable.

Fine Gael in government, with the support of the Minister for Finance, surrendered control of housing planning policy to a small cohort of planners who are city-based. It has promoted a policy that forced families into small flats or duplexes and other spaces that are not suitable for rearing families. This was confirmed by An Bord Pleanála when its representatives appeared before the Committee of Public Accounts. They indicated that a mere 7% of the total units for which planning permission was granted were family homes. Has no one in the Government stopped to consider this point? Our planning system is abjectly anti-family homes in favour of a high-density model that was conceived in post-revolution Moscow. The 15-minute city regularly cited by the Custom House as the panacea to all housing and transport ills has never worked anywhere from a social perspective. The policy does not consider its dire social effects.

I commend the councillors of County Cavan who exercised their mandate and rejected this Stalinist, anti-family home policy in favour of a rational approach that will serve their constituents well. I call on all councillors worth their salt in rural Ireland to stand up and be counted and reject the Stalinist housing policy that has been slavishly implemented by Fine Gael in government. If we do not, in the first instance, give people the family homes they want, we will never solve the housing crisis. The real question is whether Fianna Fáil has the bottle to take control of this crisis. To do that, it must amend planning policy now. If it does not do so in the next few months, the crisis will persist for decades.

I am happy to take part in this debate, not only on affordable housing but on the crisis in housing. There is a crisis in terms of supply, affordability, sustainability, planning and the long-term economic effects of housing policy as it is operating at present. In terms of supply issues, other speakers have referred to the ability to develop land but I am not sure they understand the real difficulties in this regard. A commercial developer looking at a parcel of zoned land must first consider the scale of development that he or she will either be allowed or required to do. Developers must then consider what density of housing is being asked for and look at the financial viability of building something and trying to sell it on, probably two or three years after planning was originally sought. Beyond that, they have to think of the difficulties of going into banks to raise developer finance. The reason we have cuckoo and vulture funds in Ireland is that they are underpinning development finance. There is no doubt that they are outbidding housing bodies.

Another issue is the SHD provision in respect of planning developments of more than 100 units. In my city of Waterford, it has served us poorly. A major development there has been given planning permission but will not be built in its present configuration because it involves a large number of single apartments for which there is no market in the city. The developer will wait to see how the planning can be tweaked in future. We need to look at how planning is configured and what is required in terms of density. There are also major issues with Irish Water, service access and zoning and servicing sites.

Then there is the affordable issue. There is not a builder in the country now who can build houses for less than €200 per square foot. That is not taking account of site costs. It will cost a builder €250,000 to €260,000 to build a 1,300 sq. ft house, before adding the site cost and service access costs. Somebody buying that house will have to pay €200,000 at 4% over a 20-year mortgage and also pay up to €98,000 on top of the mortgage. There are very few of those homes available in the country. People are looking at 30-year mortgages or at affordable and other schemes. What the Minister has brought in may not be perfect but I welcome initiatives such as the help to buy scheme and the new affordable housing scheme. There is definitely room for the cost-rental model in Ireland. Under the affordable scheme, 20% of the house cost is payable at 0% for five years, which will be a help. However, we must look at people's ability to borrow the additional moneys required. They will still have to come up with 80% of the cost. People working in an SME for the average industrial wage - I am not talking about the public sector, including gardaí and nurses - are earning between €28,000 and €35,000. If such people are not partnered up, how are they to buy any apartment or house? They have no chance. Yet, at the same time, we have a large amount of vacant property in the State and nobody is talking about a housing model that would offer incentives to property owners to develop such property for the market.

I welcome the new provision to mandate that 10% of new housing schemes be affordable. As a councillor in Waterford, I asked for that many times. However, I reiterate the issue of purchaser sustainability. Planning issues are still to the fore and planning guidelines, as Deputy Verona Murphy outlined, are now very much in the mix. It appears that the Government, the planning authorities and the regulator are taking a very negative view of one-off housing in rural Ireland. That is a very retrograde step for the development and sustainability of communities. We cannot have minimum density requirements in the regions. We talk all the time in the House about the migration to Dublin. We need to get people out of Dublin and give them the opportunity to live in rural areas. We are not a densely populated country and we can afford to have people living rurally.

I will conclude by referring to a couple of initiatives I would like to see introduced. In terms of affordability, public land use is absolutely crucial. There must be a review of the purchasing index because we are paying far too much for materials in this country. I would like to see some type of public procurement system and probably a parcelling up of land zonings that would be given to smaller developers.

We can talk in here until the cows come home about affordable housing but Government policy, especially since the Green Party went into government and got its way on so many issues, means that affordable housing is a pipe dream. Every action the Government is taking is adding huge costs, including the cost of insulation and timber, because we cannot cut forests, and the costs of all the other materials we have to import. It is just pure nonsense. People must be mesmerised and sick to the teeth of listening to us talking about this in the House, especially the homeless and the thousands of people in County Tipperary who are waiting for houses. Then we have the young men and women who have a site and are able to build a house but are not allowed to do so. There are also issues with councils refurbishing houses. In the case of Waterford City and County Council, for example, in any house it retrofits, the chimney is blocked. There are to be no more chimneys in any of the new houses that are in planning. I spoke to a farmer last week who is having problems getting planning permission for his daughter. He has 300 acres of land with timber and everything else.

Everything is being done to drive costs upward. Houses are non-affordable instead of affordable. We talk in this House about why housing cannot be built. It must be profitable for a builder - I am talking about small builders, not the big developers - to build a house, but it is not. The cost has gone higher and higher. There are issues with all the waste material. We have gone over the top with disposal costs as well. We have had regulation after regulation and, hey presto, we have a new planning regulator, which is another big quango. The first time ever I heard of it was in regard to the Cahir town plan that was done recently. The person in charge is a planner all his life and now he has the power and is diminishing the powers of local authorities.

It is shocking. Cahir was forced to dezone from 50 ha down to 10 ha. I hope this will be changed now. The council has come out this week to build on a site to which the councillors had objected because it is a green area in a housing estate. The council is going building there after rezoning 50 ha elsewhere in the town, taking away the green space it had. The policies are those of a nincompoop. It is an upside-down, mixed-up world. It is crazy. If you were to put the whole lot into a cement mixer, mix it all up and churn it out in a heap, you would get more common sense out of it. There is absolutely no common sense whatsoever. The people who want to build the houses will not be let build them, and the builder cannot afford to build them because of all the regulations and baloney. I could call it something a lot stronger but I will not use the world I am thinking of in our national Parliament. A hundred years on from the freedom Dan Breen, Seán Treacy, Michael Collins and Liam Lynch fought for, now we are tied up in knots, with regulation after regulation and officers, officials and regulators wielding power like latter-day gods. They are like Stalin.

I thank Sinn Féin for allowing us this time to debate this very important motion. I have nothing personal to say to anyone, but there is a hames being made of the building of houses. The Government is paying a regulator to dezone land in Kerry. It is paying a regulator to block one-off houses for people who would build the houses themselves if they could get the planning permission. The Government is giving one developer in each settlement, town or village the monopoly to build houses. If there were a developer on a site on each side of a town, at least you would have competition, but what happens if you give that monopoly to one developer? Those developers have a monopoly and can charge what they like. There is no competition. Small traditional builders who always built a few houses and sold them on cannot build now because they cannot finance a scheme of ten or 12 houses. Banks will not put forward the finance. Since the abolition of stage payments, they cannot carry the full cost of the houses until they get paid. What happened - and I have seen this happening - when they finished the houses and sold them on? Money was held back by the purchasers and the developers found it very hard to get the last €15,000 or €20,000 from them. That is why the builders are not building.

Following the debacle we have gone through here day after day when we have raised the felling licences, the price of timber has gone up to an exorbitant amount and is not available. It takes six weeks to deliver the timber ordered for a house. They will not tell you the price, or they cannot do so until they bring it to you. Irish Water is charging €6,500 per house in a scheme. The price of insulation has gone up by 40%. The price of steel has doubled. There are other levies and regulations. If the Government is wondering why it is costing massive sums of money to build houses or why it is so hard to build them, those are some of the reasons. The Government would want to cop on and go down the country and look at what is going on there. The Government is talking about €450,000 for a house. That is not an affordable house.

Tá áthas orm labhairt ar an rún fíorthábhachtach seo. Affordable housing - or indeed the lack of affordable housing schemes - is a huge issue of concern. In my constituency, Laois-Offaly, we have little or none available, which is leading to couples and single people paying exorbitant rents. Even though some areas are rent pressure zones, it makes little or no difference. This Government needs to get real. It is failing many of our young people because of the lack of action on building affordable housing schemes, which are so badly needed. What is very frustrating to people is that the signs of this problem growing have been there for years and years yet we have allowed it to deteriorate to catastrophic levels.

In 2019 the ESRI made it clear that the trends in housing payment costs across households showed that on average households were paying one fifth of their total income on housing costs. This figure has only grown with the rising costs of insurance and utilities. The ESRI analysis indicated that private renters and low-income households were paying a significantly higher proportion of their incomes on housing payments. Households in the bottom 25% of income distribution in particular were spending between two fifths to more than one half of their income on housing costs, depending on tenure. Again, all this has become worse in the intervening years. We have a society crippled by the lack of affordable housing options, a planning system at the mercy of organisations which should be disbanded, like An Taisce, and a local authority housebuilding system that is not fit for purpose. There are issues with the planning arrangements in local authorities. It takes far too long for these housing schemes to get off the ground. Every local authority should have its own legal department in order to be able to move the process on. We have to see a change here and we have to see the Government stepping up.

We have been talking about housing since I got here in 2016. Unfortunately, we have gone from one housing crisis to another. I know now why there is a crisis in housing. It is because of the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil parties. They are backed up now by their buddies in the Greens. They are the cause of the problem and the nightmare. Young people in rural Ireland want to build on their own farms and in their own communities. They are being refused continuously by a planning system, regulations and the 2040 plan. Our group did our best here last week to try to see if we could turn that 2040 plan into a document on which we could have at least a little consultation and discussion in order that young people would be allowed planning permission in their own areas. Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens all voted one way and that was to make sure to heap more misery and difficulty on those people. As if there were not enough regulation, the Government parties have their buddies in An Taisce just in case you get past the post. An Taisce gets over €3 million a year from the State. We have looked at all the Departments that were handing out money to An Taisce left, right and centre. Nobody is questioning why every other organisation in the country does not get money. This is an organisation that certain political parties want to have in our system to make life more difficult for people who want to get housing.

We blame the development plans, and I urge Cork County Council to be very careful in supporting its county development plan if parts of it involve the 2040 plan that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have put into these county development plans. If it does, and if it means young people cannot get planning permission in their own communities, the council should absolutely reject it and be proud to do so. We are looking at dezoning and a situation in which if people are lucky and fortunate enough to get planning permission, there is then the issue that the banks will not give them the money. We have a massive housing crisis, whether you are building one or whether you cannot get to live in one. Today we were told that despite being promised that there would be 80 timber felling licences a week, we are down to 40. We have a crisis of the highest order and it is led by the Green Party and then Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael backing them up. Something has to give here. The country is starting to overheat and these parties are lying idly by. They are costing young people their homes and their lives. They cannot just start off in life like everybody else once did. Many of these politicians have their own homes and there was nobody standing before them refusing them when they bought or built them.

I thank Sinn Féin and Deputy Ó Broin for using their Private Members' time to put this issue on the agenda of the Dáil. As with previous housing motions, it is really important. I have two questions for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, the dominant parties in successive governments, and for the Labour Party and the Greens. I found it incredible to listen to the Labour Party representative tonight. The last time the Labour Party was in government, it was too busy trying to force domestic water charges down the throats of working-class people to notice the developing housing crisis. What it gave us was the initiation of HAP, which is causing huge problems. My first question is this: how did the governments of these parties, successive establishment governments, get into this mess?

This crisis is the result of policy decisions made by the successive governments led by the establishment parties and their decision to end direct local authority house building and transfer responsibility to the private sector. Local authority housing stock now is only one third of what it was in the 1960s. Before the crash, pursuant to this policy, the Government attempted to create a new class of small part-time landlords, encouraging so-called buy-to-lets. After the crash, many of these buy-to-lets ended up being repossessed. A new strategy then emerged of encouraging REITs, so-called vulture and cuckoo funds. They are exempt from corporation tax, stamp duty and capital gains tax. In addition, as revealed in the Business Post, State funds were invested in these companies.

What can the Government now do to resolve this mess? It seems that the Attorney General has given his blessing to proposals under consideration by the Cabinet. That does not mean that any proposal will not be subject to legal challenges. If the stamp duty is increased, the extra cost will simply be included in increased prices and higher rents. Changes to planning could take three to four years to be passed and implemented. Between 70,000 and 80,000 planning applications are currently in process and they will not be affected by any new laws.

This crisis will not blow over. It will not be resolved by mere tinkering with the system. If it were not for the pandemic, there would already be enormous protests on the streets on this issue. Based on the number of emails and social media comments I am getting, I believe there is a strong mood to be on the streets, demanding change.

Fianna Fáil is now trying to protect itself as a party of first-time buyers. We should be clear who these first-time buyers are. They are young working-class couples. They are not looking to put their foot on the so-called property ladder. These are couples seeking to put a roof over their head and hopefully raise a family. They cannot afford to be at the mercy of some greedy landlord, jacking up the rent or evicting them because they can get more out of someone else.

The proposal to build 6,000 so-called affordable homes over the next four years will not con anybody; it is actually pathetic. Sufficient zoned land is available through local authorities and NAMA to make a significant dent in this crisis. It means, in the main, building public houses, the majority with affordable rent and security of tenure with some of the land set aside to build housing with a leasehold arrangement, as State-subsidised mortgages. It will create the conditions to eliminate local authority housing waiting lists. We should also be introducing cost-rental housing for those who do not qualify for local authority housing.

Fifty years after it was first recommended, the State should introduce a key recommendation of the Kenny report for land rezoned to residential use to be capped at 25% of its agricultural value. The Government could introduce a separate 20% "use it or lose it" tax on derelict sites, land hoarding and vacant properties. These are the measures that could make a difference. Increasing supply would help to reduce house prices and rents in the private sector. All that is needed is the radical will to do so.

We are seeing a crisis develop regarding housing assistance payments, HAP. I have been contacted by several people who have reached the cap on the homeless HAP and they are required to top up more and more. These people came from homelessness and will end up in homelessness if the Government does not review this very quickly and protect these renters.

I thank all Deputies for their contributions. I thank Deputy Ó Broin and Sinn Féin for tabling the motion. Deputy Ó Broin continues to bring constructive ideas to the housing debate. This evening's discussion has been useful.

I will start by addressing some of the points I have listened to since I took over on this side of the debate. Deputy Verona Murphy and others raised the issue of medium-density housing. We believe that in large urban areas that is simply not viable or sustainable for reasons of public transport and spatial planning. The notion of family homes is changing significantly. We are trying to create sustainable communities as well as just units.

Deputies Shanahan and Mattie McGrath and others spoke about rural housing and one-off rural housing. The preference in the national development plan, NDP, is for clustered settlements and ensuring that housing is located in the right place where it is close to and connected into water and wastewater infrastructure because we have a significant problem with groundwater and pollution from septic tanks. It is also about the renovation of housing in smaller urban settlements in line with the Town Centres First policy.

Questions were raised about the role of the Office of the Planning Regulator. The Government's view is that the office is a vital cog in the wheel of our planning system and ensures we have sustainable planning in this country. We reject any commentary regarding the role of the Office of the Planning Regulator. That office provides a vital role in ensuring sustainable development and avoiding unchecked planning.

There have been calls to disband An Taisce. An Taisce is a prescribed body and an essential partner in our planning process.

In response to the points made by Deputy Joan Collins, we are working to resolve myriad issues relating to housing and affordability. There is considerable commentary about what has happened in the past, but we are trying to secure a sustainable future for everybody, something on which everybody in this House needs to work collectively. It is a crisis and a significant challenge for us all. All Deputies in this House should be working collaboratively to try to achieve that.

I firmly believe that home ownership is good for individuals, good for families, good for communities and good for the State. With this in mind, we have put delivery, affordability and the chance to own a home at the very heart of our housing policy. In its proposed amendment to this evening's motion, the Government reflects this and makes clear, as laid out by the programme for Government, that its actions will be guided by the core principle that everybody should have access to good quality housing to purchase or to rent.

This is also an opportunity to raise simple but fundamental questions of the proposed plans laid out by the main Opposition party. It points out the cross-border hypocrisy, misleading definition of ownership and opposition to real housing projects that characterise Sinn Féin's actual policy. The promise of 20,000 homes comes without any indication of where they will be built or who will build them. Why is shared ownership promoted in the North but vehemently opposed here in the South? Why does it refer to long-term lease as "ownership" under its scheme? I assume it is a concept similar to that of housing in other EU states, but it is not described as ownership. These are fundamental questions that remain unanswered.

In contrast we are focused on delivery and that will be a key test for the Government. The Affordable Housing Bill 2021, which the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, introduced to the Oireachtas last night, together with the Land Development Agency Bill 2021 will work to give people the opportunity of ownership. These two landmark Bills are backed up by the largest housing budget in the history of the State and our most ambitious social housing targets on record. Combined, this represents a major step change in our housing policy that mobilises both the public and private sectors.

Using these Bills as its foundation, the upcoming housing-for-all plan to be published this summer will set out the ambitious range of affordable housing targets across the country over the coming years. Will the Opposition support these crucial pieces of legislation?

The proof of the pudding of our housing plans will be in the delivery of units. Let us consider what we are doing in one specific important area, the roll-out of local authority-led direct-build affordable housing, which will be a central plank of Government's affordable housing plan. Homes will range from €160,000 to €310,000. The Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, is working with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to reform the €310 million serviced sites fund to ensure it can effectively fund major delivery.

For example, a development this year at Boherboy, County Cork, will be the first serviced sites fund, SSF, scheme delivering homes under the affordable purchase legislation. It will deliver 116 affordable homes and two- and three-bedroom homes are expected to be made available to first-time buyers at purchase prices ranging from €198,000 to €223,000.

Fingal County Council is currently constructing an affordable housing development with 39 affordable and 12 social homes in Dun Emer, Lusk, comprising two- and three-bedroom houses and apartments. The council is accepting applications for these homes which will be offered by the local authority at property prices starting from €166,000, with an average of 25% reduction on open market values. The House will agree that these are affordable prices.

We need local authorities to bring forward many more of these types of projects at pace. That is the message that we have given. For our own part, we will ensure that the necessary budgetary and statutory supports are in place. We should also note that drafting and amending provisions to Part V of the Planning and Development Act to increase the current 10% social housing requirement for all new developments to a mandatory 20% social and affordable requirement is a very worthy and useful mechanism which has worked well in the past and should never have been reduced. Additional to the affordable housing Bill 2020, the Land Development Agency, LDA, is using €1.25 billion from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, ISIF, to assemble strategic sites in urban areas to deliver social and affordable homes for rent and purchase. Cost-rental is being delivered and this was a key ask of the Green Party in the programme for Government.

In conclusion, I reiterate that our core approach in the middle of a national housing crisis and confronted with such an emergency is that we must use all tools at our disposal to address this challenge across both the private and public sectors, and by not tying one hand behind our back. I am committed to pragmatism over ideology and to delivering over dogmatism to boost supply and to open up home ownership to a new generation. We need to stop letting parties be the enemy of everyone’s good when facing a crisis. Silver bullet fantasies, cross-Border hypocrisy, misleading claims of ownership and cynical hysteria politics will wreak havoc on a generation locked up in a rent trap and they deserve better. I also reiterate that it is important that we work collectively to try to address this crisis. We in government will be more than happy to work with parties across the House to try to achieve that.

Gabhaim buíochas leis an gCathaoirleach Gníomhach. It is bad enough that the Government appears to be blind to the solutions but we now know that it is an active contributor to the dysfunction in our housing system. Since 2016, house prices have risen by 30% and rents have increased by 44%. The cost of a home in the first quarter of this year was 7.6% higher than in the same period last year. Behind every one of these increases in rent or house prices are ordinary families and workers struggling to get themselves into a home or to retain their homes. Repeatedly, Government solutions are more of the same. It is handouts, freebies and tax breaks but these are for the corporate landlords, the speculators and the vultures.

We heard in here only last week speaker after speaker from the Government side feigning anguish and crying crocodile tears at the very thought that investment funds could be purchasing large swathes of family homes. It turns out that the Government, the same parties, were actually investing in those very investment funds. We need an increase in the delivery of social and affordable housing to deliver homes for those who need them and to reduce the pressure that is pushing up rents and house prices.

Every single week Deputy Ó Broin and Sinn Féin bring forward the proposals that will do exactly that and every single week Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party Deputies vote them down in the hope and blind aspiration that the Minister, Deputy O’Brien’s policies, which are a repeat of the Fine Gael policies before him, will somehow deliver different results. We are calling for a doubling of the direct investment in public housing to €2.8 billion per year at the very least because that is what is needed. That is what Sinn Fein’s proposals will bring.

This is another opportunity this week for Government Deputies. Do they stand for change and for delivering housing for those young people about whom they speak so eloquently or do they want to continue with the repeatedly failed policies that have not secured the homes that our young people deserve?

I commend Deputy Ó Broin not alone on this motion but on all of the work he has done and continues to do to fix the mess that successive governments have created in our housing market. That Government policy has failed is not in question any longer. For decades, the policies of successive governments have failed. They have failed young people, renters, first-time buyers and every person who wants security in their home. The evidence of this is all around us.

The evidence is in my family. It may not be in that of the Minister of State's but it is definitely in mine. It is not that long since the Minister of State's Green Party and Fianna Fáil crashed our economy off a cliff. The solution put forward by Fine Gael and the Labour Party was to invite the vulture funds in and roll out the red carpet for them. I see the impact of those decisions every day of the week in my constituency in Swords and in Balbriggan, and right across Fingal where I am proud to represent the people who are at the business end of the Government's policies because its policies has failed them. The human impact of this crisis is all around the Government and it is absolutely heartbreaking. I ask the Minister of State to open his eyes and not to reach blindly for the silly rhetoric that comes out of Fianna Fáil and for him to come in here to repeat it. I ask him to have a little bit of respect for the people who are listening to this debate this evening.

We have been constructive and have put forward solutions. We have used our own experience. More than 20 years ago I was able to buy a house. I bought this house because by the time she was five years of age, my daughter had had six separate addresses. That is what it was like and it is worse now renting in Dublin. I was able to buy a house on an ordinary income. That is gone from people now and they cannot aspire to owning their own home and having security. In 1965 my father and mother, and people like Bernard and Betty Browne, were part of the Dublin Housing Action Committee. They demanded adequate housing, fair rents for proper homes, protection from eviction and an end to the scandal of empty homes. More than 50 years on, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are fighting for the same thing and this time they are fighting the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party Government. Fight, we will, and win, we will.

In the past half an hour the Cabinet has concluded its deliberations and has announced its plan to address the issue of investment funds bulk-buying family homes. Having just read the press release it is an absolute cop-out. The Government plan will do nothing to stop investment funds from bulk-buying family homes. The proposed planning changes will not apply to existing planning permissions and will not apply to future apartment developments. The tax changes are absolutely minimal and will also not apply to apartments.

What is proposed to happen is that bulk-buying of houses, duplexes and apartments that were intended for owner occupiers, whether first-time buyers or others, will continue to be snapped up by international investment funds. The people who are not able to buy those homes will then be forced to continue to rent houses, duplexes and apartments at exorbitant rates. How anybody could think that that is an adequate response to the very legitimate outpouring of anger by people enraged by the failure of successive government housing policies is really beyond me. People are going to very quickly see tonight’s announcement for the cop-out that it is.

I will reply to some of the Government’s responses to our Private Members’ motion. At the centre of this is a very simple proposition. If people want large volumes of affordable homes to rent and to buy, if the Green Party genuinely wants to see the policy that it campaigned for in its election manifesto, that is, large volumes of good quality, energy-efficient apartments in our city centre being delivered for prices people can afford to rent or buy, then there is only one way of doing that.

That is very significant increases in direct capital investment by the Government to ensure local authorities, approved housing bodies and community housing trusts can deliver those homes.

Ministers can come into the House and say as many times as they want that they believe in home ownership, affordability and fair rents, but the figures tell a very different story. Not a single affordable home to rent or buy has been delivered by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in the past five years. This year, we are only going to see 530 affordable homes, 90 of which will be to buy with the remainder to rent, although some of the prices are way beyond the reach of ordinary working people. According to officials from the Department who appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage only a matter of weeks ago, next year we will only see 700 new homes through the serviced sites fund and may breach the figure of 1,000 new homes in 2023. That is not an affordable housing programme; it is an insult to the working people who desperately need affordable housing.

A similar situation pertains with the Land Development Agency. It was to be the great white hope of increasing housing supply. It recently told the Oireachtas housing committee that none of its units will be ready until 2023 and even then there will only be a few hundred. It will be 2025 before the LDA breaches the figure of 1,000 homes and by that stage, the affordable housing crisis will be even worse.

What do we need to do? We need to listen to the ESRI. Only two weeks ago, it recommended the doubling of direct capital investment in the delivery of social and affordable homes. That would mean spending this year and next year of €2.8 billion, rather than €1.4 billion. Even the International Monetary Fund has stated it is possible and necessary for the Government to commit that kind of capital investment. If it does not do so but, rather, continues to throw tiny sums, such as €35 million this year for cost rental and just €50 million for affordable purchase, at this problem, the gap between the rhetoric of the Government and the reality of people's housing needs on the ground will grow ever wider and anger will increase. Let us be clear that once Covid is over we will see mobilisation on the streets like we have not seen for decades because people will demand a very simple thing - for the political parties in government to honour the commitments they have made for years and yet failed to meet for years.

I make no apology for proposing this alternative housing proposition. The State needs to double capital investment in public housing, deliver 20,000 social and affordable homes a year for the next five years, make sure those homes are genuinely affordable, with rents below €900 and house prices below €230,000, and stop gifting and selling public land to private developers to build and sell unaffordable houses. I fully commend the motion to the House.

The question is that the amendment be made. Na Teachtaí atá ar thaobh na ceiste, abair Tá.

Níl aon duine ar thaobh an leasaithe.

Amendment declared lost.
Motion put and declared carried.