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Affordable Housing Bill passes all stages in the Seanad

Waterford Fine Gael Senator John Cummins and party spokesman on Housing, Local Government and Heritage has welcomed the passage of the Affordable Housing Bill through the Seanad on Friday 18th June. The Bill which was initiated in the Seanad will now go to the Dail for consideration and approval.

Senator Cummins said “The Government have consistently said that putting homeownership back in reach is a major priority. The Affordable Housing Bill and the Land Development Agency Bill are two very significant pieces of legislation which will assist in making this aspiration a reality.

“The Affordable Housing Bill 2021 has four key components which are all aimed at boosting supply and making homes for purchase and rent more affordable for individuals and families.

  • Local Authority Affordable Purchase scheme

  • A national cost rental scheme,

  • An innovative new shared equity scheme

  • The extension of Part V to a set 20% in every Local Authority area with a 10% requirement for social homes and 10% requirement for affordable homes.

“The government is supporting the Direct Build Local Authority Affordable Purchase scheme via the Serviced Sites Fund which provides a €50,000 subsidy per unit and this will form part of the equity stake which the council will take in the home. Applicants will be required to maximise their mortgage with the main qualifying criteria being; you cannot get a mortgage for 90% of the cost of the home, you live in the area and have a need for the property size. The technical criteria will be set by regulation, however Local Authorities will have 30% flexibility under the scheme to tailor to the needs in their communities.

“The first ever Cost Rental scheme will see 430 units delivered this year. This scheme is initially being rolled out via the Housing Associations (AHBs) and will have rents at 25% below market rents. This new rental sector will be aimed at those who are above the income limits for social housing and will have long term secure tenancies. It is based on the Vienna model which is much lauded, and I look forward to the expansion of the sector across our 5 cities in the time ahead.

“Expanding the Part V requirement for all private estates from 10% Social to 10% social plus 10% Affordable Purchase is a hugely welcome move and this will ensure we get far more Affordable purchase stock into the system quickly. Purchase will be in accordance with the Local Authority Affordable Purchase scheme with the discounted price being the Part V price. This scheme will deliver approximately 3000 affordable homes per annum when fully operational.

“Finally the Shared Equity Scheme which all the opposition parties oppose will assist individuals and families to bridge the gap between what they can afford under the macro-prudential rules and the market price of a unit in a private development. Price caps will apply depending on the county one is buying in. The scheme is based on equity not debt, with no obligation to buy it out, with a modest charge applying after year 5. The scheme is being finalised at present in preparation for the passage of the legislation before mid-July.

Senator Cummins concluded by saying “Our target is to ensure homeownership rises from its current 67.7% to 80% by the end of the decade and this will require the construction of 33,000 plus houses per annum. In 2013 this state was building 4500 homes, this rose to nearly 21,000 homes last year despite Covid-19 closures. We will continue to use any delivery mechanism possible to increase the supply of homes for individuals and families.

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