Saturday 10 December 2016

Incentives worth €10m to lure developers in new rent scheme

Kevin Doyle and Niall O'Connor

Published 05/11/2015 | 02:30

Andrew McCarthy and Harry Canning from Bon Secours Hospital Cork with John Calnan and Tim O'Connell of St Vincent de Paul as Bon Secours Hospital Cork announced €50,000 in funding for a shower block extension at St Vincent's Homeless Hostel on Anglsea Street in the city
Andrew McCarthy and Harry Canning from Bon Secours Hospital Cork with John Calnan and Tim O'Connell of St Vincent de Paul as Bon Secours Hospital Cork announced €50,000 in funding for a shower block extension at St Vincent's Homeless Hostel on Anglsea Street in the city

An affordable rental scheme whereby developers are subsidised by the State to lease accommodation at 70-80pc of the market rate is to form part of the new housing package.

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Environment Minister Alan Kelly has received the green light to spend €10m on a pilot scheme next year with a view to extending this if it proves successful.

Exact details of how it will work have to be teased out, but the Irish Independent understands that a developer would be given concessions by the State such as financial support or discounted land if they commit to taking part.

"The €10m for this was set aside in the Budget so it will definitely happen, but the details are still being worked out. It will be running from early next year," said a source.

The scheme will be aimed at low to moderate income earners in urban areas where the rental costs are highest.

It is hoped that such an initiative will help encourage developers to commit to providing rented accommodation and prevent families from needing supports from the social welfare system.

A similar scheme was set-up in Australia in 2008 but was ended in 2014 after failing to meet its target.

Part of the problem was the inappropriate use of the scheme by universities to build student accommodation.

Negotiations aimed at reaching a compromise on the long-awaited housing package are continuing with a result expected in the coming days.

Mr Kelly has lost his battle for so-called rent certainty but sources insist that he will get a series of measures that offer more security of tenure.

Homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry described news that a rent certainty deal linked to the Consumer Price Index has been dropped as "a disaster".

Speaking about the row between Mr Kelly and the Department of Finance, Fr McVerry said: "Nero fiddles while Rome burns - that's the only image we have. It's an absolute disgrace. We have a crisis, it's beyond crisis, we have an emergency."

The Simon Community has also hit out at the plans to drop rent certainty, with spokesperson Niamh Randall saying: "That these proposals appear to have been blocked at a time when there is such limited social housing supply is a massive blow. As rents become increasingly unaffordable, more people, families and children will be pushed into homelessness.

"What appears to be on offer will not provide the much needed protection and security tenants so badly need."

In the Dáil yesterday, the Government was accused of damaging the rental market by failing to agree on a package.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny refused to say whether rent certainty is off the table, as indicated by a Labour Party spokesperson.

"It's a challenging situation," Mr Kenny said.

Irish Independent

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