Proposal for new semi-state agency to handle social housing

Leo Varadkar, meanwhile, has said the Government has "enormous work" to do over the housing crisis

Proposal for new semi-state agency to handle social housing

Photo: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

The Taoiseach has admitted homelessness is still an 'enormous' problem.

His comments come as a new proposal to try and tackle the housing crisis has been revealed.

The latest suggestion involves setting up a semi-state body like Irish Water to build social housing.

The Irish Times reports that it would take control away from local authorities and raise its own money for construction.

It's among a number of options being considered by the Government, in response to spiralling prices and a lack of supply.

Housing expert Lorcan Sirr from Dublin Institute of Technology explained to Newstalk Breakfast: "The idea would be that you could centralise the process and the finance - when you do that, you have control of the whole process, and you can keep the costs down.

"It's getting the State back to doing what it used to do, which is to build social housing. We used to build up to 8,000 houses a year - even when we hadn't a bean in our pocket back in the 1950s, we were still building thousands of social houses every year."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, meanwhile, says the Government is doing its best.

He explained: "We have enormous work still to do when it comes to dealing with the housing crisis in Ireland.

"The fact that we do have so many children & families in emergency accommodation is reflective of the enormous challenges that we face. The reason why they are in emergency accommodation, of course, is because we are making sure that no family is sleeping rough."

"Take politics out of housing delivery"

Following The Irish Times report, a number of homeless charities this morning noted they have previously called for a semi-state body to handle housing:

Fianna Fáil, however, described the proposal for a new semi-state company to deal with housing as 'misguided'.

In a statement, the party's housing spokesperson Barry Cowen argued: "Rather than setting up a new quango, I propose that the NAMA Act be amended to give NAMA an additional mandate to deliver residential development on Local Authority owned sites, state and semi-state owned lands. This would work mainly for large and medium sized mixed tenure developments, including private, affordable and social housing.

“Under our plan the role of the Department would be to set minimum guidelines on social and affordable dividends that have to be achieved. However they would no longer be involved in the four stage approval process that is currently hampering the delivery of social housing by Local Authorities."