Government plans to build 45,000 social houses over the next 5 years

A state fund will also be set up to purchase distressed properties from banks

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Leaks from the Government's Housing Action Plan reveal that 45,000 social houses are to be built over the next 5 years.

Reports in today’s Irish Times also claim that a state fund will be set up to purchase distressed properties from banks.

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney will publish the housing plan in full next Tuesday, subject to Cabinet approval.

The document reportedly sets out plans to build “mixed tenure” housing, on public land, to speed up the planning process for social housing and to establish a “procurement centre of excellence” in the Housing Agency.

It says the State must intervene in the housing crisis to “reduce the scope for the housing sector to be the source of damaging behaviour and dynamics which could threaten our future prosperity”.

The much anticipated plan contains measures to kick-start construction including a €200 million fund for local infrastructure housing activation and it will also empower local authorities to pay developers upfront for social housing, rather than wait to pay on completion.

The document sets out plans for local authorities to develop an affordable rental sector in partnership with developers. A white paper on the private rented sector will be published in autumn.

Critics of the plan say it tackles the symptoms, but not the causes of the current crisis.

Fianna Fáil says 'extraordinary measures' are needed to tackle the crisis.

The party's Spokesperson on Housing, Barry Cowen, said: "There's four sectors contained within the housing parameters that need to be addressed - in relation to public housing, in relation to private housing, in relation to the rental sector, in relation to mortgage distress.

"My party believes the way in which this can be led and driven is through a housing procurement agency or housing authority, which has the potential and the power to raise extraordinary funds to deal with the extraordinary situation."

Trinity College economist Ronan Lyons told Newstalk Breakfast that it is crucial the Government lowers construction costs. Mr Lyons said he has seen private figures that suggest that it is 50% more expensive to build in Ireland than it is in Canada or the Netherlands.

“If the government doesn't understand why it is so expensive to build in Ireland than it is in other countries we won't be able to take the policy measures that are needed to fix that,” he concluded.

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