Co-operative Housing Ireland has welcomed the recommendations of the Dail Committee on Housing and Homelessness to address the housing crisis. The Committee has called for a programme that would increase the level of housing provision over the coming five years from 35,000 new homes to 50,000. This ambitious new target has the potential to make a significant impact in beginning to address significant underlying structural problems in Irish housing supply.
The Committee has adopted a number of the recommendations made by Co-operative Housing Ireland in its submission on improving housing supply. One of the Association’s main requests was for the establishment of a national agency to support housing procurement to work in partnership with local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies. Improved access to finance, procurement support, and a more streamlined approvals process are key factors in increasing the speed of housing delivery.
Releasing sites for development is a critical factor threatening the pipeline of future housing delivery. Recommendations from the Committee to provide for infrastructure investment, to increase and bring forward the Vacant Sites Levy, and to examine publically owned land could help to improve the supply of development land.
Co-operative Housing Ireland has worked with a number of partners over the last decade to continue delivery during an unprecedented crisis. Partners from the development sector and from private finance have played a role in sustaining housing supply. Co-operative Housing Ireland welcomes the recognition that non-state investment from the Irish League of Credit Unions and others is needed to support new housing supply. The Committees recommendation about seeking clarity and flexibility on what is required by EU fiscal rules is also important.
In the private housing sector, a set of proposals to support tenants and home owners are also welcome. The suggestion (The Rent Switch Scheme) of allowing Approved Housing Bodies, like Co-operative Housing Ireland, to purchase rental properties and prevent evictions is particularly welcome. This is an approach that the Association has begun to develop at a number of locations in Dublin and policy and financial support to expand this line of activity would be very welcome.
Speaking after the launch of the report, Co-operative Housing Ireland CEO, Kieron Brennan said: “the recommendations made by this committee set out an ambitious but achievable vision for improved housing provision over the coming five years. Our hope is that these recommendations are accepted and implemented by Minister Simon Coveney in his forthcoming Housing Action Plan.
“Beyond the coming five years, there is a continuing need for a sustained, cross-party commitment to a different kind of housing system for the future that will be less susceptible to market shocks. In that sense, this report should be seen as just the first step on a journey to a different type of housing provision for the longer term.”