Opposition parties demand public housing on public land but refuse to support an agency set up to do just that, according to Fine Gael Senator and spokesperson on Housing, Local Government and Heritage John Cummins.
Cummins says the calls for ‘public housing on public land’ from opposition parties ring hollow because of their unwillingness to support legislation to establish the Land Development Agency which has a specific remit to deliver public housing on public land.
“This week in Seanad Éireann, Sinn Féin, Labour and some Independents opposed the progression of the Land Development Agency Bill at second stage, despite repeatedly calling for more public housing on public land. In the Dáil on the 30th June the Social Democrats and People Before Profit also opposed the establishment of the Land Development Agency.
“This is more of the same hypocrisy from opposition parties and follows hot on the heels of Sinn Féin councillors in Wicklow voting against the construction of 18 social houses on council owned land and their opposition to the construction of 6,000 homes in Dublin.
“You cannot on one hand call for social and affordable housing on public land and then vote against legislation to establish a powerful agency which has been set up to deliver large scale social and affordable housing schemes on state owned land across the country. It is about time that this is called out for what it is – hypocrisy.
“Opposition for the sake of opposition will not build a single home. This is about delivery over ideology. Fine Gael believes in home ownership and we will deliver homes by any mechanism possible. We are not hung up on ideology. Homes can be built by Councils, Approved Housing Bodies, the LDA, through Public Private Partnerships or private builders; as long as they get built. The housing crisis will not be solved if we do not use every tool at our disposal to deliver homes for individuals and families.
“The LDA will complement the work of Local Authorities who are being empowered and resourced through the Affordable Housing Bill to deliver large volumes of Affordable Homes right across this State. The new Affordable Housing Fund will replace the existing Serviced Sites Fund and allow councils to apply on an open call basis to receive between €50,000 and €100,000 per unit in a development. This money will be used to take an equity stake in the property thereby reducing the costs of purchase for individuals and families.
“This Government is currently finalising a new Housing for All plan which will set ambitious targets for all stakeholders involved in the delivery of housing. Access to affordable housing is a major issue for my generation.
“Output has increased from 4575 houses in 2013 to 20,584 in 2020 despite Covid, and there is no doubt we would have reached 25,000 in 2020 & 28,000 in 2021 but for the impact of construction closures. I know everyone in the sector is fully committed to making up for lost ground now. This is all about supply, we need to get to 33,000 homes per year and Fine Gael believes we can and should strive to reach 40,000 homes per year but we’ll only do that by utilising every mechanism possible including the Land Development Agency.”