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Affordable housing scheme will benefit real estate mafia, not general public! Opposition slams Government’s new affordable housing scheme

DUBLIN: Opposition harshly criticises the government’s new affordable housing scheme called for resolving Ireland’s housing problems.

The government says the bill, introduced yesterday by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, includes a cost-effective rental scheme and a shared equity programme to build affordable housing.

But opposition leaders argue that the new bill would only benefit real estate and cuckoo funds, allowing them to make huge profits. The opposition alleges that it is merely a ploy to sell off houses that have been put up for sale by private companies in various parts of the country.

The Labour Party has accused the government of deceiving the people by buying houses built at low prices by cuckoo funds and foreign monopolies and selling them to councils and the needy at even higher prices.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett described the government’s affordable housing and rental cost policies as “pathetic.” Boyd Barrett alleges that the plan was made without realising the depth of housing problems in Ireland.

The project is targeting just 6,000 affordable homes in collaboration with local authorities over the next four years. Dun Laoghaire TD pointed out that this was totally inadequate.

TD Richard Boyd Barrett said: “That’s 1,500 houses roughly a year, which compared to the scale of the problem, with about 80% of working people priced out of the market by these cuckoo funds, it’s just pathetic in terms of numbers.

“Then when you look at the prices of the so-called affordable housing, we discover that in the areas where the crisis is most acute, where housing is most unaffordable, the affordable housing will be completely unaffordable for anybody who’s earning less than between €90,000 and €120,000.

“So, when you consider that average earnings in this country are about €39,000 a year, essentially this scheme offers nothing for the vast, vast majority of working people. Even the affordable housing will be completely unaffordable, and to my mind, this is because once again, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are kowtowing to the property developers who are unwilling to provide housing at a level that is actually affordable for ordinary working people,” Mr. Boyd Barrett said.

The TD also said he does not believe coastal rental schemes would succeed in reducing rents across the country. “When you look at the LDA [Land Development Agency] Bill, so-called cost rental and so-called affordable housing to purchase are going to be benchmarked against local market conditions, and there will be a slight discount on those local market conditions,” he said.

“In the areas where rents are the highest, where house prices are the highest, the rent will only be a small discount. If you take an area like Dun Laoghaire, you’re talking about rents these days of €2,500; Greystones over €3,000. So once again, it would appear in the way that both the affordable housing bill and the LDA Bill are being set up, that the cost rental will actually be unaffordable for huge numbers of people.”

He added: “What the cuckoo funds are doing is leasing back properties that they bought; they come in and buy whole swathes, pricing ordinary buyers out; then they lease these houses back at extortionate cost to the council. So even if the councils…get some of these houses for social housing tenants, it’s costing the State an absolute fortune and of course the cuckoo funds can exit the arrangement after a specified period of time.

“Really this is the worst of all possible worlds, and it would seem that the Government are doing anything but actually building itself public and affordable housing that people can actually afford. The only winners in all of this are the cuckoo funds, the international investment funds and property speculators.”

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