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Increased supply of social housing key to resolving crisis
Social Justice Ireland made a presentation on Social Housing Supply to the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness today. The scale of the social housing challenge that Ireland faces is immense. There are 90,000 households on the waiting list for social housing. Securing sufficient finance to provide the scale of social housing required is a major challenge. There is no possibility of providing the level of financing required to deal with the scale of the problem on the Government balance sheet within the current fiscal rules.
The key challenge is to increase the supply of housing generally and of social housing in particular. Increasing the supply of social housing units will take the pressure off the private rental market and supply in the private sector. Social Justice Ireland recommends that Government fully resource the Social Housing Strategy and expand its scale to effectively eliminate the current waiting list of 90,000 households while also providing for the increased demand for social housing in coming years. It will not be possible for Government to finance this level of provision ‘on the books’ because of the fiscal rules that have been adopted since the crash. A viable means of financing this provision ‘off-the-books’ is urgently required.
Social Justice Ireland proposes that Government (i) put off-balance sheet financing structures in place to generate sufficient capital to finance the supply of new social housing needed to eliminate current waiting lists and also meet the additional demand that will emerge as Ireland’s population grows, and (ii) explore the utilisation of NAMA as a housing agency with the ability to access and distribute appropriate off-balance sheet funding and to take an active role in the direction and support of Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) in the provision of social housing.