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Backlash as €100k earners qualify for affordable homes scheme

  • Opposition takes swipe at ‘unacceptable’ housing scheme, saying it is aimed at those who don’t need it
  • Affordable homes for those on €100,000 labelled ‘a mockery’

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Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin was critical of the scheme. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin was critical of the scheme. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin was critical of the scheme. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Buyers on incomes of €100,000 will be eligible for a government affordable homes scheme that will give them interest-free subsidies, the Irish Independent can reveal.

This has been described as unacceptable by the opposition.

There is an allocation of €60m this year to deliver around 550 homes under the Affordable Housing Fund, a scheme signed into law by Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien.

However, it has emerged that the just-published regulations underpinning the scheme will allow home buyers on incomes of up to €100,000 qualify for it.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said this made a mockery of the word affordable.

Under the scheme, local authorities provide an interest-free equity stake to buyers who qualify to make the homes more affordable. The councils are also providing the land and serviced sites to developers to build the homes.

The local authorities will receive a subsidy from the Department of Housing to cover their costs.

Sinn Féin’s Mr Ó Broin said: “The eligibility criteria are far too broad and would see scarce resources going to people who don’t need it.”

He said describing €410,000 homes as “affordable” made a mockery of the word.

The regulations underpinning the scheme show a complicated mathematical formula is being used to assess eligibility for it.

Dublin City Council is using the fund to build the massive O’Devaney Gardens scheme.

The council has signed a contract with property developer group Bartra, which has secured planning permission for 1,047 homes on the former council-owned site.

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Homes on the site are expected to go to market for up to €410,000. A portion of the homes will be affordable homes, subsidised by around €97,000 under the Affordable Homes Fund, Mr Ó Broin said.

Under the scheme, the income limits for those who qualify is based on taking three-and-a-half times an applicant’s gross income.

The rules then stipulate that the applicant can use this three-and-a-half times income amount to qualify, as long as it does not exceed 85.5pc of the property’s value.

In the case of a €410,000 home, multiplying by 85.5pc works out at €350,000.

This means that a person on a salary of €100,000 would qualify under the eligibility criteria to buy an affordable home for €410,000.

Mr Ó Broin said: “I don’t believe anyone on that income would have a difficulty purchasing a home at the moment, even with our very high prices.”

The eligibility criteria also allow people on high incomes to qualify for the scheme if they have two letters of refusal from mortgage lenders.

The TD wants an income limit of €85,000, with some flexibility for those who can demonstrate they can’t get mainstream bank finance.

“The way the scheme is constituted, the gross income limits are unacceptable and exceptionally high and they make no sense to me,” he said.

He said the eligibility criteria would see scarce resources going to people who don’t need them.

He also stated that the statutory instrument underpinning the scheme was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas ­without any publicity.

A spokesperson for Housing Minister Mr O’Brien said, after consulting Dublin City Council, that the majority of homes in O’Devaney Gardens will be made available at prices of between €200,000 and €300,000.

They said this is also the case for the large majority of affordable homes which will be made available nationally this year.

The department said local authorities, supported by it, plan to deliver 7,550 affordable homes by 2026.


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