Addressing the housing crisis
Sir, – As pointed out by Harry McGee (“Government’s silver bullets for housing crisis have been blanks”, Analysis, August 15th), successive housing ministers have singularly failed to address the housing crisis.
By only tinkering at the edges, ministers may have ignored an enormous funding resource sitting in plain view.
This is the uncommitted €5.3 billion sitting in the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund’s Discretionary Portfolio and invested since 2014 in low-yielding international assets.
In the same way that the then-minister for finance directed the ISIF’s predecessor, the National Pension Reserve Fund, to invest €21 billion in the failing banks, so also could the current Minister for Finance set up new institutions to prudently invest the ISIF’s massive surplus funds in major initiatives for housing in addition to health and other urgent infrastructure.
For example, a €3 billion development fund to finance social and affordable housing on public and Nama-owned land could easily carry an equivalent amount of debt.
This would facilitate the construction of up to 30,000 public-owned homes for rent or sale and would be infinitely more productive than the short-term, stuttering tactics adopted to date.
Given the scale and urgency of the housing crisis, accelerated provision of these homes should outweigh every institutional, political or ideological impediment. – Yours, etc,