I express my condolences to the families of the children murdered in Robb Elementary School in Texas. Our thoughts are with the heartbroken families at this time.
Along with the Ceann Comhairle and the rest of the team here I welcome to the Dáil the First Minister-designate and her team. I wish her all the best as she leads the assembly into this term.
Insím don Aire, nach bhfuil dabht ar bith ná go bhfuil polasaí tithe an Rialtais ag teip mar is scannalach an plean atá ag an Rialtas chun €450 milliún d'airgead cáiníocóirí na tíre seo a thabhairt d'fhorbróirí chun tithe a thógáil nach bhfuil aon duine ábalta a cheannach, mar go bhfuil siad ró-dhaor. Is ag filleadh ar pholasaí Fhianna Fáil a bhris an córas tithíochta atá an Rialtas seo agus ba chóir deireadh a chur leis. We have had three reports in recent weeks that highlight in the sharpest way the failure of the Minister and the Government to get to grips with the housing crisis. Extortionate rents continue to soar with the number of rental properties now at an all-time low. Off-the-wall house prices have increased again beyond the reach of ordinary workers and families. The scourge of homelessness is returning to the shameful pre-Covid-19 levels. We now hear the Minister's targets for housing are under serious threat due to spiralling construction costs. By any objective measure the Minister's approach is failing and he is failing spectacularly. The housing crisis being created by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is defining the life of an entire generation. On the Minister's watch things have gone from bad to worse. Is it any wonder that newspapers now refer to the housing crisis as a decade of shame?
Amid this social catastrophe what do we get from the Minister with responsibility for housing? Is it a ban on rent increases and evictions? No. Is it a serious ramping up of direct delivery of genuinely affordable homes? No. Is it an initiative to cut rents? Not on the Minister's watch. What we get instead is a bonkers scheme whereby he will gift €450 million of taxpayers' money to developers to build apartments with no reduction in the prices that will be charged to home owners. It is absolutely off the wall. The Minister will pay these developers out of the public purse to build apartments that only those earning the highest salaries will be able to afford. The question needs to be asked again as to what planet the Minister is living on with this type of scheme.
It gets worse because the Minister is not being entirely honest about his madcap plan. Last week in the Dáil he quoted purchase prices of €250,000 for the apartments to be delivered under the scheme. According to an unpublished document circulated between developers and the Housing Agency, the anticipated open market value of a one-bed apartment is €320,000, a two-bed apartment is €390,000 and a three-bed apartment is €445,000. Where is the Minister getting the €250,000 he spoke about in the Dáil last week? All he has to do is take a look at daft.ie. Apartments for sale in the city of Dublin command average prices of between €400,000 and €500,000. This is on the Minister's watch.
Why is the Minister raising the hopes of people looking to buy a home when he knows his scheme will only dash these hopes once again? The truth is his scheme will not deliver affordable housing for people. Is this not the truth? The Minister knows it and we know it. Why does he not tell the people straight? It is straight from the old Fianna Fáil playbook that destroyed the housing system at the start when it was previously in government. It is big handouts to developers and home ownership only for those who are the wealthiest. I urge the Minister to come to his senses and scrap this scheme. I am asking him instead to invest the €450 million to fund local authorities and approved housing bodies to deliver affordable homes that ordinary families and workers can buy.