Almost 15,000 social homes must be built each year, says advocacy group

Plan says tax loopholes for investment groups must be closed

Social Justice Ireland has urged the Government to  acquire an equity stake in properties in mortgage distress so that families are left in situ and the State’s housing stock is increased

Social Justice Ireland has urged the Government to acquire an equity stake in properties in mortgage distress so that families are left in situ and the State’s housing stock is increased

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More than 14,300 social homes must be built each year for the next decade while all tax loopholes which allow large-scale investment groups to purchase residential properties must be closed, Social Justice Ireland (SJI) has said.

The think tank and advocacy group’s 10-point plan on housing delivery, which it will submit to the Department of Housing today (Monday), calls on the Government to stop viewing housing as an asset and to return to housing as “a social good, an essential component of ensuring a decent standard of living”.

Social Justice Ireland has urged the Government to expand the Housing First model to families, providing wraparound services and supports for children and parents, and to acquire an equity stake in properties in mortgage distress so that families are left in situ and the State’s housing stock is increased.

Some 14,341 social homes need to be built each year for the next decade at an annual investment of €3.3 billion, while the sale of State lands suitable for residential development should be prohibited, with this land only being used to build social housing, says the plan.

The group says Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) should retain their social housing stock, while its sale by AHBs on the private market must be prohibited.

The Government must also address housing affordability on the supply-side rather than investing in demand-side schemes that artificially maintain high house prices, says SJI. All tax loopholes for large-scale investment vehicles purchasing residential properties must be closed, while further investment is needed in property inspections and enforcements.

The State must also legislate to increase tenant protections, introduce long-term leases, and invest in services and infrastructure to support housing developments, according to the plan.

Housing units

SJI analyst Colette Bennett warned that the actual number of households seeking social housing had risen 33 per cent since 2016, adding that the number of social housing units in Ireland needed to be doubled.

“There are more than 170,000 social housing units in Ireland today. This needs to be doubled if the country is to reach a target of 20 per cent of all housing being made up of social housing.”

She also warned that as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, the policies introduced during the pandemic to protect renters and home-owners, such as the ban on evictions and payment breaks for mortgage-holders, would also start to disappear.

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