Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle says affordable housing bill does not address ‘broken housing policies’

Pringle says affordable housing bill does not address ‘broken housing policies’

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, urged Government to listen to the people affected by its broken housing policies.

Speaking on the Affordable Housing Bill 2021 in the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said: “I would urge you all to listen to the affected voices of your broken housing policies. For many there is no ‘bank of mam and dad’; there is no reprieve from extortionate rents to save a deposit in order to have a secure home; there are no options to stay in your neighbourhoods or community settings with support networks. There is little or no choice.”

The deputy also said there are about 1,000 people living in social housing in Donegal that “have the walls crumbling around them” because the houses were built with mica-affected concrete blocks, and at least 4,000 more owner-occupied homes that are also crumbling because of mica.

Deputy Pringle said: “The 90% mica redress scheme is not fit-for-purpose and I echo my calls here today for 100% redress for affected homes, alongside the other necessary measures such as covering rent and pausing mortgage repayments.”

He cited a recent blog by Dr Conor McCabe, which noted that former Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke in the Dáil to denounce rent freezes two years after Fine Gael and Labour had introduced legislation to allow Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) to operate in Ireland.

Deputy Pringle said: “Given the recent outrage and faux shock at the vulture funds gobbling up full housing estates, it is an important reminder that they were welcomed in by the Government.”

He said: “Relating to cost rental, you have said that this is targeted at those with ‘moderate incomes’ but that has not been defined. Given that you seem to think €450k is affordable for Dublin, I dread to think that you think moderate incomes could pay for renting. The pilot scheme in Stepaside, Dublin has the rents set at €1,200 per month, which again I think is ridiculously high.”

The ESRI has said that the shared equity scheme will probably push up prices and the Central Bank has come out against the Government proposals, he said.

The deputy raised a number of issues, including the housing crisis for disabled people, and asked why Universal Design standards for accessibility were not used in building.

He said he included a number of proposals in his “Housing for All” submission that would make a huge difference in the housing crisis, calling for the maximum income limit for inclusion on the housing list to be removed, to give a realistic picture of people in need of housing; for vacant homes to be CPO’d and made available to people on waiting lists and first-time buyers; to commandeer unoccupied apartment buildings as an emergency measure; for NAMA to release all residential units to local authorities immediately, for social and affordable housing, among other measures.