'I asked to be appointed housing minister' - Simon Coveney's reasons for tackling crisis

The minister says the new housing plan wants to rebuild people's lives

Simon Coveney, Action Plan for Homelessness, crisis, property, house building,

Minister Simon Coveney launches the Government's new Housing Action Plan at the Government Press Centre | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Housing Minister Simon Coveney says he asked the Taoiseach to appointment him to tackle the housing crisis.

It comes after the Government launched its Action Plan for Homelessness, which aims to 47,000 social houses in six years.

"This is a very substantial response to what is a broken housing market," Minister Coveney told the Right Hook here on Newstalk.

"I've made it very clear, and the Taoiseach has backed that up, that fixing the housing market and responding appropriately to homelessness is the number one priority of Government."

"We've given a commitment within the first 100 days of Government we'd produce a plan that would attempt to do that - and that's what we launched today."

"We're looking to rebuild people's lives, as well as rebuild the housing market."

"I wanted this portfolio because of what we announced today - I specifically asked the Taoiseach to put me in charge of fixing the housing crisis."

'Private developers on public land'

Mr Coveney says this is because he identifies with people his age who are struggling.

"If I look at, particularly my own age group in Ireland at the moment, the pressures they're under in terms of mortgage arrears, debt management, the financial debt that they have to shoulder and the pressures that a broken housing market is putting on them...I wanted to take on the challenge of trying to fix that."

On the plan itself, Minister Coveney says: "We have about two-thirds of first-time buyers simply locked out of the market - no new houses being built for them - and so we need to close that gap between what it costs to build a house and what first-time buyers can actually afford to spend."

"We have to look at what currently makes up the cost of a new house, and about 40,000 of that cost actually comes from site costs."

"If we can get private developers building on public land, that will dramatically reduce the cost of a house."

Minister Coveney said he hopes the plan will continue in the next government, regardless of who is in power.

He also admitted: "It's not perfect - I'm sure there are some mistakes in it and we'll have to correct them - but it is a good start."