Tuesday 15 October 2019

Hope of rents being cut by €500 a month under major new affordable homes plan

Mary Murphy: A new ‘cost rental’ scheme is needed
Mary Murphy: A new ‘cost rental’ scheme is needed

Anne-Marie Walsh

A new scheme which aims to slash the rent of a two-bed apartment by more than €500 a month has been unveiled.

The Land Development Agency has outlined plans for the country's first large-scale affordable rental plan.

It aims to help solve the housing crisis by building thousands of homes and offering them at rent up to 25pc below the market rate.

The typical rent for a two-bed apartment in south Dublin would fall from €1,850 to €1,302 a month under the proposed scheme.

This would give the squeezed middle and lower- paid workers, who cannot get a mortgage, the chance to get a foothold in the market.

The first project will be rolled out from the end of the year with the development of more than 300 homes in Dublin - but thousands more are in the pipeline.

The first scheme is likely to be at Shanganagh in Shankill, in partnership with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

The agency has a portfolio of eight sites from State-owned bodies with potential for 3,000 further homes and is in discussions regarding other sites.

These eight sites are the Central Mental Hospital site in Dundrum, Hampton in Balbriggan, Hacketstown in Skerries, Devoy Barracks, Naas, the former Meath Hospital in Dublin, St Kevin's Hospital in Cork, Columb Barracks in Mullingar and Dyke Road in Galway.

However, it will take up to three years before the first tenants get their keys, to allow for planning and construction.

Plans outlined by agency CEO John Coleman to south Dublin councillors yesterday said the proposed scheme is for the increasing number of people who do not qualify for social housing but struggle to pay private rents.

The scheme was announced as a new report will today recommend a local authority-led 'cost rental' housing model.

The 'More Power to You' report, commissioned by Fórsa, Siptu and Connect, says Ireland has the weakest local authorities in Europe. It recommends the councils' portion of public spending rises from 8pc towards a European average of 23pc. It also recommends elected mayors and a new town council system.

Workers in local authorities fear local government is becoming "only a figurehead" but should be delivering "substance", like water, housing or other services, it says.

Author Dr Mary Murphy of Maynooth University said there is a need to change the current social housing model as the rent charged does not cover construction costs or ongoing maintenance. She said a new 'cost rental' scheme would more accurately reflect these costs.

Irish Independent

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