Encouraging older people to downsize and allowing taller buildings to be built in cities form part of a new Government plan to “finally get to grips” with the housing crisis.
The Irish Examiner reports that the Housing for All plan, due to be announced next month, will see €12 billion a year aim to deliver 33,000 homes a year by 2025.
The plan will also see 90,000 vacant units brought into use, new compulsory powers for local authorities to buy land for housing, and the constitutional right to property questioned.
“Everything is on the table. This is no longer just a money issue. This is complex and there is a concerted effort to finally get to grips with this,” a senior Government source told the newspaper.
A major ambition of the plan is tackling the issue of affordability, however, there is concern that what is planned will still leave homes beyond the reach of many low-paid workers.
In Dublin currently, the median price for a new-build home is €400,000, requiring a household income of over €100,000 to access the appropriate mortgage.
The Government’s objective is to achieve purchase prices in the range of €250,000 to €325,000 in the capital.
However, these prices would still only be accessible to households with incomes of around €85,000 — while the national average income is €49,000.
The housing plan also aims to encourage older people currently living in larger family homes of three to five bedrooms to downsize and “unlock” the properties for younger families.
“Thousands of elderly people are still living in the family home, even though the kids are up and gone, and we need to unlock those sort of houses for younger families," said the source.
“Thousands of homes could be freed up each year.”
The plan also targets the reduction of vacancy levels in urban areas, including above-the-shop units in city and town centres, which have traditionally lain idle.
There is a commitment to tackle the “underutilisation of existing housing stock”, according to Government documents seen by the Irish Examiner.
It is estimated there is an overall potential market of up to 90,000 vacant or underutilised units.
The Government will also seek to bring forward measures to force action on 80,000 unused planning permissions granted in the past five years.
Half of those unused permissions are in Dublin, equating to four years of supply for the capital.
Ministers are also keen to address the physical limitations put on apartment buildings, by increasing the height limits for tall residential towers.