Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing Barry Cowen has expressed surprise at the manner of the release of Minister Simon Coveney’s Housing Plan. The plan, which apparently talks about building 45,000 new social housing units by 2021, has been selectively leaked to the media.
Deputy Cowen stated that real resources have to be put behind government efforts to tackle the housing crisis to demonstrate that this is not just the latest in a long line of ambitious announcements that haven’t been followed through.
He commented, “The country has had more than enough of Government spin on the issue of housing. Supply is the key issue to be addressed in this crisis. This means more state resources, using off balance sheet funding and fast tracking planning.
“Fianna Fáil has been calling for an ambitious social housing target combined with clear measures to boost private housing development for a number of years. Our manifesto set out a clear route to achieve 45,000 social housing units as part of 150,000 homes across the state. It also set out new ideas to help Generation Rent and new affordable rent schemes. According to the latest FOI material there are some 135,000 households on the social housing waiting list. Now we need real resources to get to grips with this crisis.”
Deputy Cowen further stated that, “I am concerned that once again, we are slipping into the territory where announcing action is more important that taking action. The last government launched its housing plan more times than the number of social housing units homes they built in my own constituency of Offaly where over 2,000 families are on the waiting list.
“In the upcoming budget Fianna Fáil will be pressing for substantial additional resources to be put into the housing capital budget, supports for first time buyers and directing the Strategic Investment Fund to purchase homes.
“My ongoing fear is that we are still not seeing a level of energy applied to this that is commensurate with the scale of the crisis. At a minimum, in our view three basic things need to happen:
– We need to establish a Housing Procurement Authority to cut through the bureaucracy and inertia;
– A creative approach to funding construction, including access to the Strategic Investment Fund and working with the Credit Union movement and private investors;
– The planning system for new strategically important housing developments needs to be shortened while this emergency persists.
“People are tired of spin, everyone agrees there is a crisis. What we actually need is action backed up by resources. Fianna Fáil will be fighting hard to ensure bricks and mortars are put into the ground.”