Committee recommends delivery of 50,000 social homes over next five years

The cross-party committee also wants to see rent certainty for tenants, as well as higher rent supplements

Committee recommends delivery of 50,000 social homes over next five years

Image: Photocall Ireland

An Oireachtas committee has recommended that 50,000 new social housing units be built over the next five years.

The final report of the housing and homelessness committee has issued 70 recommendations - including rent certainty, a freeze on repossessions and giving priority to those who are long-term without a home.

The committee, a cross-party group, has heard over 80 written submissions from the public and interested stakeholders since its first meeting in April. 

Its recommendations are set to feed into Minister Simon Coveney's housing action plan. 

The main recommendation is to acquire 50,000 social homes in five years - a trebling of the current Government target.

The report also recommends that no homeless shelters are closed until alternative accommodation can be sourced for families.

On the issue of private accommodation, it calls for a system of rent certainty linking further rent reviews to the consumer price index.  

The committee also wants rent supplements and housing assistance payments to be increased to reflect current market rates.

Subject to the advice of the attorney general, it says a moratorium on home repossessions should be imposed until such time as a strategy to deal with mortgage arrears in put in place.

The report also recommends that protection from evictions be strengthened by:

  • Introducing a scheme whereby a housing association or local authority can buy a rental property from an existing investor,
  • Increasing security of tenure from the current four-year period to one of indefinite duration,
  • Establishing legal safeguards to allow tenants remain in the property during and after its sale.

Anti Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger did not attend the launch of the report and issued her own minority report.

The Dublin West deputy said the committee was not ambitious enough.

"What sealed it for me was the social housing targets," she said. "They're still far too low given the scale of the emergency we have."

However, Mike Allen from homelessness charity Focus Ireland is happy their suggestions were taken on board.

"Really the debate now should move on to how much of this gets into Minister Coveney's action plan, and then very quickly, as soon as we can, to move on to the actual action," he suggested. 

Minister Coveney has promised the action plan by September.