Fianna Fáil demands Govt introduce scheme to build 4,000 affordable homes in a year

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith
Irish Examiner Political Correspondent

Fianna Fáil has demanded the Government builds up to 4,000 new homes on State-owned land in the next 12 months as part of an ambitious new €200m affordable housing scheme.

Micheál Martin's party has called for the major investment to be a cornerstone of next month's budget in talks between Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and his Fianna Fáil counterpart Michael McGrath.

While the move has yet to be agreed, housing spokesperson Darragh O'Brien said the plan would involve a multi-year commitment to build new affordable homes on State land - potentially cutting house price costs by €50,000.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner at the start of Fianna Fáil's two-day pre-Dáil think-in today, Mr O'Brien said that while there are 2,000 hectares of State-owned land in local authorities across the country, most of it is not being used.

He said Fianna Fáil instead wants to build 4,000 new homes on the land in the next 12 months as part of a €200m new affordable housing scheme, and to "expand" the initiative in subsequent years.

While the current average price of a house is €380,000 in Dublin and €250,000 in the rest of country, Mr O'Brien said using the currently empty State-owned land could reduce these figures by €50,000.

This is because the average cost of land to build a house on would not need to be included in any new homes built as part of the new scheme, thereby slashing existing house prices.

"What we're talking about is starting the affordable housing scheme again. It has been done before, and it can be done again," Mr O'Brien said.

"There is a real need for affordable homes for people across the country.

"To repay a mortgage for an average house in Dublin at the moment you would have to be earning €90,000, which is out of reach for loads of people."

"So this is about introducing a subsidy of €50,000 for homes that will be built on State-owned land, and it's something we want to see started in this budget and then expanded on in future years," Mr O'Brien said.

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