The Housing Minister has moved to assure Olympic Gold Medallist Kellie Harrington that the housing crisis will improve this year.
The 32-year-old lightweight boxing Olympic champion has said she is finding it impossible to get a mortgage.
In an interview with the Irish Independent Harrington said she is hoping to move into a home on her native Portland Row in Dublin with her fiancée Mandy.
She said the ‘atrocious’ housing crisis has made it nearly impossible for them – with banks unwilling to give them a mortgage.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said Harrington’s generation has now had ten years of a desperate struggle to buy their own homes”.
“We are going to make that better and that is my whole focus – making sure that people like Kellie […] are actually able to buy their own home,” he said.
He noted that Harrington has also expressed interest in plans for a new grant to help first-time buyers bring vacant properties back into use.
“That is what we are working on,” he said. “We are going to have that very soon; another grant that will be available to be able to take older homes back into use; to give that assistance to people like Kellie to be able to do up that house.
“We have got to recognise that, if we want more people living [in our cities] and we want to use our vacant properties better, we have got the help first-time buyers to do that and I am concluding work on that scheme.”
"Kellie is right"
He insisted that the Government’s other affordability measures will make a difference in the short-term, with more affordable homes becoming available.
“Kellie is right; it has been really difficult for the last number of years,” he said. “It is going to get better through this year.”
Minister O’Brien also said he aims to welcome 1,000 homes a year into the State’s mortgage-to-rent scheme in the coming years.
The scheme allows people who are in serious mortgage arrears to surrender their properties to a lender and become social housing tenants.
From next month, the price limits on the scheme will be relaxed:
- In the Greater Dublin Area, it will be open to homes worth up to €450,000 – up from €395,000.
- In Cork, it will be available to homes worth up to €450,000 – up from €354,000.
- In the rest of the country, it will be available to homes worth up to €345,000 – up from €305,000.
“It is a sustainable solution for those who have found themselves in really serious mortgage arrears,” said Minister O’Brien.
“There still are thousands of families out there, it is not spoken about a lot anymore, but there are many out there who … basically their mortgage situation is irreversible.
“this means they don’t leave their home; it means it is secure for them and there is a buyback option into the future as well.”
Minister O’Brien said 578 families entered the scheme last year and he now hopes to accept 1,000 households per year moving forward.“I would ask people, if they are struggling with serious mortgage arrears issues, to reach out, to get help,” he said.
“Help is there, this does work and it is a sustainable long-term solution that works for people and can give them security in their home.”
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