The launch of the Government’s Housing For All plan marks a significant step forward in the goal to ensure everyone has the option to own their own home, and builds on Fine Gael’s work in this area, according to Deputy Emer Higgins and Senator John Cummins. ‘Housing for All’ is the new whole-of-government plan that incorporates and builds on the cornerstone measures from Fine Gael’s plan Rebuilding Ireland and introduces new actions to ensure everyone has access to sustainable, good quality housing.
Fine Gael member of the Oireachtas Housing Committee, Deputy Emer Higgins said: “Housing For All sets out not just housing targets but a realistic and sustainable path to delivering on those targets. It is financially backed by €20bn of investment over 5 years and represents real progress for first-time buyers, for renters, and for lower income families who need additional support to meet their accommodation needs. It is built on the core vision of social inclusion and supports and empowers homeownership – something that’s really critical in Irish society.
“Before the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic, much progress had been made in providing homes and housing of different types. Under the Rebuilding Ireland Plan started by Fine Gael in the last Government, nearly 85,000 new homes were built from the time of the plan’s launch in summer 2016 up to last year. Similarly, the plan delivered over 34,000 social homes comprising new builds, acquisitions and the refurbishment and renovation of old homes.
“Fine Gael has always maintained we must step up the level of ambition on housing output per year, and I am pleased to see the Government’s plan targets the building of 40,000 a year by 2030. The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar first outlined the target of 40,000 homes annually at our Árd Fheis in June and three months later, it is Government policy. Fine Gael’s work is all across this plan. “We are focused on expanding the role and borrowing capacity of the LDA and extending the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan to more people struggling to buy their first home. It already has lent over €354 million to help almost 2,100 households buy their first home.
“The plan introduces a new ‘Owner-Occupier Guarantee’ to ensure a portion of all new developments are reserved for first-time buyers and other owner-occupiers, as well as a new ‘First Home’ Shared Equity Scheme for private developments. “Another hugely important goal is to eradicate homelessness by 2030. This plan expands the Housing First programme which provides wraparound supports for homeless people to help them transition into housing and establishes a new National Homeless Action Committee. We are also expanding Street Outreach Teams nationwide to help people sleeping rough.
“As a member of the Housing Committee, I had the opportunity to help shape this multi-annual and multi-billion euro strategy. Housing is a huge issue for my generation and I fully welcome this radical but realistic strategic plan which will see a record level of state investment to help increase homeownership and affordability, increase our housing supply and deliver efficiencies within our existing housing stock, while also tackling homelessness”, concluded Deputy Higgins.
Fine Gael Housing Spokesperson in the Seanad John Cummins said: “A holistic approach is really important to solving our housing issues. As well as increasing supply of private homes, we must increase social and affordable options as well as continuing to support renters. “The plan ensures that 20% of all developments are set aside for affordable and social homes and also commits to reforming the Local Authority Home Loan scheme. “The Rent Pressure Zones which were introduced by Fine Gael in the last Government, will be extended to 2024, and we will ensure any rent increases are capped at the rate of inflation and also cap upfront deposit and rent payments at two months value. We are also introducing indefinite tenancies to provide greater security and certainty, as well as increased powers for the Residential Tenancies’ Board. The Plan provides an average of 2,000 new cost rental homes every year with rents targeted at least 25% below market level.
“We also want to support older people in their housing options. We will explore changes to stamp duty in cases where a household chooses to right-size to a new home that better suits their needs. We are also working to ensure the continued delivery of Age Friendly housing with homes designed to suit the needs of older people, as well as continuing to facilitate the use of homes of people in the Fair Deal Scheme. “The introduction of a new Croí Cónaithe Fund to provide serviced sites and refurbish vacant properties in regional towns and villages is hugely welcome and something I had lobbied for to be included in the plan. This fund will also support owner occupier apartment development in our city centres on brownfield sites which is particularly important in our main urban centres of Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Galway. “This plan is truly for everyone and that is why we have introduced a ‘fresh start principle’ whereby persons who are divorced and have no interest in the family home, or who have undergone insolvency proceedings, will be eligible to apply to state affordable housing and loan schemes. This was a committee recommendation put forward by Fine Gael which I’m delighted to see included.
“Housing for All is a living plan with ambitious but achievable targets to ensure that responsibly built, high-quality, sustainable, comfortable and secure homes are available for all”, Senator Cummins concluded.