Sinn Fein’s flawed affordable housing proposals would prevent outright home ownership for individuals and families, according to Fine Gael Senator John Cummins.
Senator Cummins, Fine Gael’s Seanad Housing spokesperson, said: “It is only right and proper that the state supports young people in purchasing their own home.
“Fine Gael and this government believe in home ownership and we believe an equity model best serves the needs of Irish buyers. Under Government’s Local Authority Affordable Housing Scheme, when a purchaser is in a position to do so, they can pay off the equity and they will own their home outright.
“This approach differs hugely from Sinn Féin who want to retain ownership of the land in which your house is built in perpetuity, meaning you will never own your house outright and they can impose limitations on who you can sell the property to in the future and for what price. Such a model would also restrict the delivery of affordable housing to state owned sites, therefore reducing supply further.
“In their proposals, Sinn Fein propose that eligibility for affordable housing would be set at a gross income of €55,000 for a single person and €85,000 for a couple, meaning a couple who pay off their mortgage over a twenty or thirty year period could be prevented from selling on their home to a family member if they fall outside these arbitrary income caps.
“Unlike Sinn Féin policy, there are no arbitrary income cut-offs in the Government’s Affordable Purchase scheme, rather it reflects the real cost of delivering housing units in different parts of the country.
In recent days, Sinn Féin Deputy Eoin O’Broin has said eligibility criteria for the Affordable Housing Scheme includes individuals earning up to €100,000.
“What the Deputy doesn’t mention is this example refers to the price point of a small number of the projected highest value homes in O’Devaney Garden’s development in Dublin.
“The reality is the majority of homes in the scheme and nationally this year will be made available at prices of between €200,000 and €300,000.
“A one-size-fits-all approach to income limits is not suitable when one considers the differing costs of development in different parts of the country. While an income ceiling of €75,000 may be appropriate in Waterford, such a ceiling could prevent many young Dublin purchasers from getting their foot on the ladder due to the higher costs of developing sites in the capital.
“Under the Local Authority Affordable Purchase scheme, the State can take a minimum equity stake of 5% and maximum equity stake of up to 40% depending on the scheme which is being delivered. A purchaser will have to draw down their maximum mortgage and will only receive the exact financial support they require. In this way, we are targeting our support at purchasers who need assistance and ensuring the scheme is adaptable to the realities of delivering houses in different parts of the country.
“We know there are challenges when it comes to housing delivery, but Supply is clearly increasing – 34,846 new homes commenced in the 12 months to March 2022, the highest rolling 12-month total since comparable data was first published.
“It is also a fact the large majority of affordable homes to come to market this year will have upfront prices of less than €290,000.
“It is also projected by ESRI and the Central Bank that this year and next year, we will meet and potentially exceeding the targets in the ‘Housing for All’ strategy. The Opposition would do well to recognise that progress is being made instead of being vague on their own policy,” Senator Cummins said.