Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

10.57 12 Sep 2020


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Around 16,000 homes will be built in Ireland this year, according to the Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien.

Minister O'Brien said the COVID-19 pandemic has provided "a serious challenge for the construction sector".

Speaking on The Home Show with Sinead Ryan, he discussed his plans for tackling the housing crisis in Ireland, particularly the affordable housing scheme.

The construction of these homes, which are expected to cost buyers between €160,000 and €250,000, aim to help those caught in a "rental-trap".

He said: "What we were looking at earlier this year pre-COVID was that the sector would build 25,000 homes in Ireland.

"That was then projected to be less than 14,000.

"It looks like now it will probably be in the region of 16,000 which is good news."

Minister O'Brien said that "affordable housing for working people has always been a priority" for him.

He added: "There's a whole load of people out there, couples and singles, who are either renting and paying really high rents, saving every spare cent they have and still cannot save enough money or get a mortgage to own their own home.

"I believe in homeownership and I think it's a just and honest and noble aspiration to have.

Minister O'Brien said that since he had taken up his role, he has tried to "put flesh on the bones of an affordable housing scheme that will work for first-time buyers".

He said he is "well advanced" in that goal.

He added: "I want to give hope to people that they will be able to buy a home at an affordable rate."

He said this would include the construction of housing on public land.

Equity model

Last week it emerged that first-time buyers earning up to €90,000 per couple could qualify for affordable housing.

Minister O'Brien said he believes "salary caps are arbitrary" and that "the definition of affordability should be around net income".

The new scheme will also involve a shared equity model, meaning that the state will take an equity share in a house.

He explained: "You would buy a portion of the house and the state would buy a portion of the house and it's an investment by the state in your home.

"In the future, that can be bought back, or not, and if the house is sold it would be paid back at that stage or the state would just retain it.

Minister O'Brien said his department hadn't settled on the full details of the scheme yet and "there is still a lot of work to be done".

He added" "The priority is for listeners who are in this trap of people paying rent and not being able to save the required amount for their deposit and feeling they will never own a home."

He said he is "confident" and that there is "a will" and "a commitment" within Government to introduce an affordable housing scheme.

Minister O'Brien said: "We have an opportunity now through COVID to invest in housing, invest in infrastructure and that's something that should be done."

He also said a major part of his focus would be on reducing the amount of homelessness in society and that he meets weekly with key stakeholders to discuss how this can be done.

Housing Minister says 16,000 homes will be built in Ireland this year

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Main image: Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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