Need to Implement NESC Report on Utilising Public Land for Affordable Housing  

18 May 2018

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The Irish Congress of Trade Unions today (May 17) called for the immediate implementation of new recommendations from the National Economic & Social Council (NESC) that back the use of publicly-owned land to build new homes and ensure that ‘affordability’ is central to official housing policy.   General Secretary Patricia King said Congress “agreed fully” with the NESC report’s characterisation of Ireland’s housing system as “speculative, volatile and expensive.”   Ms King said: “The current approach is simply not delivering for workers and their families. Most individual wage earners will not qualify for a mortgage for one-bed apartment in Dublin, while two workers on median earnings are priced out of the market for a three-bedroom home in the capital, according to research from the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI).”   “Rents are now more than 20% above their pre-crash peak, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).”   “In terms of land supply, we know the Government has identified 1,700 hectares owned by local authorities and the Housing Agency and 200 hectares owned by other state and semi-state bodies (e.g. rail depots and former docks), as suitable for housing with the potential to provide at least 50,000 new homes.   ‘Yet the approach of public bodies - NAMA included - is to maximise revenue by selling this land outright. In the midst of a housing crisis, this makes no sense,” Ms King said.   “Simply building more (unaffordable) homes will not solve the housing and homelessness crisis.   ‘We welcome NESC’s key recommendations on the use of publicly-owned land and affordability, along with proposals to bring greater certainty and stability to the rental sector. They are very much in line with the Congress Charter for Housing Rights, and NERI’s 2017 report,  Ireland’s Housing Emergency: Time for a Game Changer.   “The government should now give very serious consideration to the NESC report and act with urgency on its key recommendations,” Ms King concluded.