Saturday 1 October 2016

TDs call for 50,00 social housing units in next four years

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

Published 17/06/2016 | 12:26

Anti-Austerity Alliance candidate Ruth Coppinger Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Anti-Austerity Alliance candidate Ruth Coppinger Photo: Frank Mc Grath

TDs have called for the provision of 50,000 social housing units by 2020 in what's been described as an "ambitious" plan to tackle the housing crisis.

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However, one member of the Dáil's Housing and Homelessness Committee, Ruth Coppinger TD hasn't signed the report saying this target isn't good enough and was "watered down" at the last minute.

The majority of the Committee today delivered its recommendations that will feed into Housing Minister Simon Coveney's action plan to deal with what several members described as "an emergency".

They include:

* Establishing a Housing Procurement Agency.

* Introducing a system of rent certainty linking rent reviews to the consumer price index.

* A moratorium on home repossessions.

* The increase in rent supplement to reflect current market rates.

The recommendation on social housing provision states:

"Increase the social housing stock (owned by local authorities and approved housing bodies) by at least 50,000 units... through a programme of acquisition, refurbishment and new build."

"We acknowledge that this is an ambitious target but it's a target that can be achieved if worked at and we believe is absolutely necessary," committee chairman and Fianna Fáil TD John Curran said this morning.

However, AAA-PBP TD Ms Coppinger said the plan isn't' ambitious enough and has produced her own minority report into the Committee's work.

"What sealed it for me are the social housing targets. They're still far too low for the scale of the emergency that we have. It would actually take fifteen years to clear the existing list to take no account of new families that are continually going on it," she said.

"There was an amendment to that proposal in the last session of the housing committee. It diluted the working from being direct build by local authorities to including acquisitions, refurbishments, and new builds. So it watered down the targets," she added.

The Committee has argued that the 50,000 number isn't a limit but is a realistic figure.

In launching the report, Mr Curran noted a visit by the TDs to Focus Ireland where they met homeless people.

"That was a very, very important moment for us," he said adding that "this was very much the human side of the issue that we were addressing."

Mr Curran added: "It made an impact on all of us and I think if anything came form that meeting it was a sense of urgency that something needs to be done."

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