““We have had two housing crises in the past decade. We have to end this cycle now. We cannot rely on the market to deliver housing that is affordable to buy or rent.”
The Social Democrats today called for urgent measures to make private and public land available for housing in order to tackle the unprecedented housing and homeless crisis.
The call was made ahead of the party’s annual Think-In in Dublin today, which is exploring ways to tackle the lack of affordability in housing, education and childcare.
Party co-leader Róisín Shortall TD said:
“We are in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis with record numbers of people locked out of home ownership and a growing homeless problem. The crisis of affordability in housing means that the average home in Dublin costs eleven times the average income, yet someone applying for a mortgage can only expect to borrow three and a half times their income.
“The availability and price of land is at the heart of our housing crisis. The Government must take a zero-tolerance approach to the hoarding of privately-owned lands. Land-owners are sitting on vacant sites until their profit targets are met. Only then do they develop or sell-on.
“This is why there is such little supply and houses are unaffordable even when they are developed. The best way to end land hoarding is to introduce a tax that works as an effective disincentive so that private land can be freed up for housing. We also need strengthened compulsory purchase powers for state bodies and much stronger investment in public land-banking.”
Deputy Shortall continued:
“In addition, we have over 700 sites owned by various public bodies but progress on developing these has been painfully slow. There hasn’t been any urgency shown by the Department of Housing or most local authorities.
“We have had two housing crises in the past decade. We have to end this cycle now. We cannot rely on the market to deliver housing that is affordable to buy or rent.”
Ahead of the new Dáil term, the party also is also setting out its priorities for Budget 2019, with a focus on reducing the cost of living and investment to improve public services.
Party members attending today’s event will hear testimonies about the lack of affordability in housing, childcare and education, as well as expert analysis from Dr Robert Sweeney from the think tank TASC, Tanya Ward from the Children’s Rights Alliance, Andrew Guy from Threshold and Síona Cahill, the president of the Union of Students in Ireland.