HOUSING … THE GREATEST ECONOMIC CRISIS FACING OUR GENERATION

RENUA Ireland believes we have unfinished business with housing.

The inability of the state to deal with the housing crash has created a housing sector which has the worst features of public and private housing.

The right to a home may not be a UN enumerated human right. But, within the economy it is the greatest human rights issue facing our generation. RENUA Ireland has key policies in

Affordable & Social Housing

The Irish state owns or controls enough zoned land to build 114,000 dwellings.

We will use zoned State land to develop affordable public housing modelled on the Austrian public housing system.

We will aim to deliver 100,000 affordable public homes within 5-years with priority being given to young working couples and young working families.

These groups have been largely ignored in public discourse on the housing crisis as government and media focus on the homeless.

However, Renua Ireland believes it is vital for the future development of our communities and our country that we provide more support to working people trying to start their adult lives.

For too long those with a disability who wish to live independent live have been ignored by planners and government. We will ensure that 7% of affordable homes are reserved for those with a disability.

Reducing the cost of Affordable housing

The current cost of constructing a 3-bed semi-detached home in Ireland is €330,493.

Public housing can be made more affordable by removing the site-purchase cost (€57,500 – 17%) and Local Authority levies (€11.750 – 4%).

Rent will be set at 20% of household income – reviewable every 3 years.

Funding Options for Affordable Public Housing

Ireland is not a poor country. Over €166 billion Euros is on deposit from businesses and citizens in banks and credit unions whilst estimates from the OECD placed the total value of Irish Pension Funds at €101.7bn at year-end 2017.

We will design and issue ‘Sustainable Neighbourhood Bonds’ for individuals and corporations.

These bonds should be modelled on the New York Housing Development Corporation’s (NYHDC) ‘Sustainable Neighbourhood Bond’ which raised $590m in its first issue in 2015.

We will allow Credit Unions to expand the range of housing schemes they can lend to.

We will require the Pension’s Authority to review its current regulations to support the use of pension assets to fund important national infrastructure.

Social & Affordable Housing Allocation

There are currently 71,858 people on social housing waiting lists in Ireland. Each Local Authority is responsible for drawing up its own rules for deciding the order of priority on the social housing list. We believe that it is vital that social houses are allocated fairly and, in a way that communities can support.

Renua Ireland believes that Local Authorities should include a ‘local families first’ criteria as part of the social housing allocation process. Here, priority will be given to applicants who have parents or grandparents living locally or who have demonstrated a clear record of participation in community development activities.

Repair & Leasing Scheme

CSO figures from Census 2016 suggested that there were 245,460 vacant homes in Ireland. While there are suggestions that that figure is somewhat inflated there is no doubt that there are a significant number of vacant homes in Ireland that could be used to help alleviate our housing crisis.

We support the Repair and Leasing Scheme (RLS) but believe it is hampered by bureaucracy and a lack of ambition. We will lead a campaign to reform the RLS. Specifically, we want to introduce higher loan amounts for longer rental periods as follows: –

€40,000 for 5-years

€80,000 for 10-years and

€120,000 for 15-years.

The €1 Home

It is scandalous in a housing crisis that there are 3,600 vacant council-owned homes in Ireland for 2-years or more. Renua Ireland will support a ‘use it or lose it’ approach to dealing with vacant social housing units. While Local Authorities may claim that they do not have the funding required to repair these homes we believe that it is simply intolerable, in the middle of a housing crisis, to leave these potential homes vacant.

Under our plan social houses lying vacant for 2-years or more and in need of repair should be sold for €1 to buyers who will agree to repair the home and maintain it as their principle private residence for a minimum of 10-years. If the home is sold within that 10-year period, the relevant Local Authority would be entitled to claw-back a portion of the capital gain on the sale of the home.

HAP Reform

Under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme Local Authorities pay rent directly to landlords while tenants may be required to pay a small contribution to the Local Authority. When tenants fail to pay their contribution, Local Authorities suspend payment to the landlord. This practice hurts landlords whom the state is using to help alleviate our housing crisis. Given the wide-ranging protections afforded to tenants it can take a long time to evict them. Private landlords, many of whom are themselves struggling to repay mortgages, find themselves out of pocket for months while their tenants live in their homes rent free.

Renua will require Local Authorities to keep paying rent to private landlords while they work with tenants for monies owed. We will also campaign to rebalance tenancy laws to make them fairer to landlords.

Land-Hoarding

We will ensure that sun-set clauses are attached to zoning decisions.

Empower councils or Approved Housing Bodies to buy undeveloped land for Affordable Housing.

Allow Local Authorities or Approved Housing bodies to enter into Public-Private Partnerships with the owners of zoned but undeveloped land.

Remove loop-holes in the vacant site levy and increase the levy annually to a maximum of 20%.

We believe that in the long-term interest of our country the Local Property Tax (LPT) should be abolished and replaced with a site value tax to encourage the optimum use of land in Ireland.

Regulations & Planning

Unwarranted restrictions for vital infrastructure should be abolished to help deliver high-density, high-quality housing.

Reform of Taxation on Rental Income

In order to truly reform Ireland’s housing market it will be necessary to reform how rental income is taxed in order to encourage continued and increased private provision of rental accommodation.

Renua Ireland will allow Local Property Taxes to be deducted for rental income purposes.

We will allow 100% mortgage interest to be deducted

For individual landlords we will introduce a headline tax rate of 20% on all rental income.

Vacant Homes and a Fairer Deal

Census 2016 recorded 183,312 properties as vacant in Ireland.

RENUA Ireland will conduct an audit of these homes with the intention of returning them to the housing stock

We will reform the ‘Fair Deal’ Scheme to encourage elderly people to sell or rent-out their home while they are in nursing home care.

Renua will set a maximum contribution of 20% of all assets and income.

A Housing Passport

RENUA Ireland will implement a ‘Housing Passport’ which will allow homeless people apply for housing across all 31 local authorities.

Under the scheme those who refuse 3 offers of accommodation will be declared ‘voluntarily homeless’ and no further housing supports will be provided.

Sorting out the Vultures

Incredibly, the Irish state has bought some properties at full market value from vulture funds which were previously owned by banks owned by the state but sold to the vulture funds at a discount.

The current value of the Irish state’s 71% share of AIB is c€10.5bn. We propose that a portion of this €10.5bn stake should be sold and the proceeds used to buy distressed assets at the same or greater discount provided to vulture funds.

Only assets that fit with our affordable public housing proposal should be purchased.

Construction Workers

Almost one in every two workers who lost their jobs from 2007 to 2012 had previously been employed in the construction industry.

In Q2 2017 110,000 people were employed in the construction sector – 46% lower than in 2007.

We will abolish the pro-rata student levy for construction sector apprentices to encourage construction companies to take on more apprentices.

Unemployed who fail to take up apprenticeships will have their dole abolished.