New housing strategy and changes to rent supplement necessary – Neville
“The housing model that was in place did not work. It was unsustainable and its legacy has been ghost estates, repossessions and now an increase in homelessness as a result”, said Dan Neville, Fine Gael Party Chairperson and TD for Limerick speaking this week in Dáil Éireann.
“Housing is a priority for Government. It always was an issue, but it is even more so now considering the huge waiting lists and the number of people paying high rents.
“The waiting list for social housing increased from 43,000 in 2005 to 98,000 in 2011, and then stood at 90,000 in 2013. There has also been a jump in the number claiming rent supplement. It has increased from 60,000 in 2005 to 97,000 in 2013.
“The Government has committed to supplying 35,000 additional social housing units at a cost of €3.8 billion over the next 6 years which will result in approximately 29,000 jobs in construction. The area of planning however is still slowing up the process of bringing housing proposals to construction phase. It takes months, sometimes years, to bring a proposal from where it is accepted to construct social housing to the letting of those houses. We need these houses sooner rather than later so the Minister for Housing, Paudie Coffey is working to open up these channels and to get the process moving.
“There is also an issue with high rents among those who are on very low incomes and who are ineligible for rent supplement. The circumstances of some of those are as bad as, or worse than, the circumstances of social welfare recipients. For this reason, the Government has introduced the Housing Assistance Payment and the Rental Accommodation Scheme. These schemes will allow flexibility in relation to the rent supplement for those who are on very low incomes.
“There are thousands of boarded up houses that would make a big difference in dealing with the Housing shortage. Funding has been provided to bring some of these properties back onto market but more needs to be done in this area as some houses I have seen have required only a small amount of maintenance.
“Some people in this country have been destroyed due to the levels of borrowing they were able to obtain and not support. Central Bank measures introduced this week will go some way in assuring that this cannot reoccur. However, is essential that we deal with the current housing shortage and that we provide a home for families in need across the country.”