Housing policy

 

Sir, – Tánaiste Leo Varadkar states that it will cost €120 billion to provide 35,000 houses a year for the next 10 years and that there is no way the State can take on that debt (News, May 21st).

The State doesn’t have to. Approximately 23,000 of those houses will be exclusively privately bought and paid for by ordinary people through a mortgage. Of the approximately 12,000 public rental houses which will be required annually, they are not a complete loss to the State. Rents will be paid by tenants. Some rents will be low, some will be higher, depending on the level of income in the household. But eventually the initial cost of the build can be recouped, provided that the State doesn’t sell off the house to the tenant at a knockdown price.

Something else the Tánaiste seems to have missed is that houses, unlike almost everything else we buy in life, have an almost infinite lifespan, provided they are maintained.

So instead of looking at the cost of a house as being needed to be recouped over a relatively short period of 20 to 25 years, politicians need to realise that the house built today for public housing can still be a public-asset in 100 or 150 years, providing an income to the State and housing for a tenant, after the initial purchase price is finally paid. That’s why pension funds are investing in housing. It’s a relatively safe long-term bet. The State should be doing the same.

Houses are generally, in the long term anyway, not a depreciating asset. A mindset change is needed by Government parties.

Is perhaps, the very short-term vision of politicians, extending only to the next election, getting in the way of a sensible long-term plan for housing in this country? The State has existed now for 100 years. Who’d think it, looking at our housing system? – Yours, etc,

DAVID DORAN,

Bagenalstown,

Co Carlow.