Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Environment and Local Government Barry Cowen has called on Minister Alan Kelly to take on board the serious concerns expressed by the ESRI regarding the escalating housing crisis.

Deputy Cowen made the comments after Dr Kiernan McQuinn of the ESRI pointed out on national radio that the Government is failing to meet its housing targets.

“The comments made by Dr McQuinn of the ESRI clearly show that we are in the midst of a housing emergency. 25,000 homes need to be delivered annually to address this crisis, but the ESRI has pointed out that only 12,000 new homes are expected to be delivered in 2015,” said Deputy Cowen.

“The ESRI identified the housing emergency as the greatest threat to our economic recovery, a position which Fianna Fáil has long maintained. The lack of supply will lead to higher rents and will ultimately force more families out of their homes.

“Fine Gael and Labour have completely failed when it comes to the provision of social housing. Fianna Fáil delivered over 14,500 social housing units between 2007 and 2010. This is in stark contrast to the measly 1,252 delivered by Fine Gael and Labour since coming to office. Their inaction has led to the emergence of this housing crisis.

“There is a growing concern that developers are hoarding land and holding back on constructing homes in order to maximise profits. Steps need to be taken to ensure this unethical practice does not continue. Fianna Fáil is proposing to introduce a vacant site levy to curb land hoarding and incentivize housing development where needed.

“Proper use of such a levy will encourage developers to invest in urban renewal projects and get the most out of precious space in high demand areas. We will also re-introduce the Windfall Rezoning tax to reduce the value of land hoarding. The steps that the Government have taken to date to reduce land hoarding are totally inadequate as they do not come into operation until 2019 at the earliest,” concluded Deputy Cowen.