Ireland is experiencing an unprecedented housing and affordability crisis. The Green Party is working hard to address these issues.
Ireland is experiencing an unprecedented housing and affordability crisis - from lack of supply, spiralling rents and bulk buying by investment funds. The Green Party is working hard to address these issues by introducing the biggest retrofit scheme ever offered in the history of the State; introducing cost-rental housing for the first time to Ireland; addressing vacancy, dereliction and defective housing; and ensuring that 100% of housing built on public land in major urban centres is social or affordable housing. We need to rebalance the constitution to enshrine the right to housing, and a referendum on Housing was a key commitment secured in the Programme for Government and this is being addressed through the Housing Commission.
In September 2021, the Green Party welcomed the Housing for All plan, which will give people access to high-quality housing to rent or buy at an affordable price. This strategy will see the highest ever level of Government investment in building social and affordable housing. Housing for All is based on four pathways that work together to lead to a more sustainable housing system. The plan will support home ownership and increase affordability; address homelessness, increase social housing delivery and support social inclusion; increase housing supply and make efficient use of the existing stock of homes.
Retrofitting half a million homes
A new Home Energy Upgrade Scheme was launched by Minister Eamon Ryan in February 2022, in what is the biggest home insulation and retrofit scheme ever offered in the State. The scheme will allow people to make their homes warmer, cut heating bills and reduce carbon emissions. One of the biggest barriers for retrofitting projects to date, has been the upfront construction costs. This scheme will help to remove that barrier with a range of options from attic insulation to a full retrofit. For private homes, new grants will cover close to half the cost (45-51%) of a deep retrofit that will improve energy efficiency to a high B2 rating.
That means grants of more than €25,000 may be offered to individual householders. There will also be options for 80% grants for more minor works, such as insulating attics and cavity walls. Approximately half the homes in the country need upgraded insulation in their attic, which can lower the cost of heating the family home by 25% every year or between €400 and €500. Households most at risk of energy poverty will be eligible for a Free Energy Upgrade Scheme. A network of “one-stop shops” throughout the State will also offer a simplified end-to-end service for homeowners undertaking a full retrofit, covering the application process, access to finance and construction work.
The Home Energy Upgrade Scheme is a significant step towards meeting the Programme for Government commitment to retrofit 500,000 homes to B2 standard and to install 400,000 heat pumps by 2030. The scale of the scheme over the next decade will also see a huge increase in demand for workers in the construction industry.
Making renting affordable
A major Green Party policy that we are putting in place is the cost rental model. Cost rental is high quality modern rental accommodation provided by the state. In 2021, Ireland saw for the first time 440 cost-rental homes delivered. These homes have rents up to 30-40% lower than market prices, making this type of residential accommodation affordable. Under the Housing for All strategy the targets for cost-rental units increase from the current number to 2,000 units a year. The Green Party would like to see this target increased further and will be working with our Government partners to address this. The Austrian's have tested this type of housing for 100 years and it now provides decent, secure and affordable accommodation to more than 60% of Viennese residents.
Bringing vacant houses back on the market
The Green Party has consistently campaigned for tax measures that would deter land hoarding and speculation in the housing market and stimulate the delivery of the right kind of housing in the right place. We are now delivering on that promise in Government to help us to increase delivery of homes across every town and city
Steven Matthews TD, Green Party Spokesperson for Planning and Local Government, and Chair of the Oireachtas Housing and Planning Committee, launched the ‘Vacancy, Dereliction and Regeneration Bill 2022’. The Bill seeks to amend existing legislation in relation to vacant and derelict property, taxation measures and the processes of upgrading existing property.
The Zoned Land Tax was introduced in Budget 2022 and aims bring a huge amount of sites in our towns and cities that are currently exempt from tax into the net and encourage the use of that land for the provision of homes. It will apply to land that is zoned for residential or mixed-use development, which is serviced but is not being developed by the site owner.
Fixing housing defects
Homeowners in Ireland need be confident that homes are fit for purpose and that there is accountability for building defects. The Green Party’s Defective Dwelling Bill 2021 introduced by Francis Duffy TD, Green Party Spokesperson for Housing, calls for a new statutory obligation on anyone who arranges, undertakes or executes residential construction works, to ensure they are executed with suitable and proper materials and in compliance with the law. It comes at a time when thousands of homeowners and tenants around the country are impacted by defective properties with many people living in crumbling homes on the verge of collapse. The Defective Dwelling Bill aims to ensure that homes are fit for human habitation, and if defects are identified, people can be assured that there is a robust framework for legal remedies.
The Bill imposes a statutory duty on construction workers, builders and others involved in construction works to see to it that the work is executed properly and that the materials used are fit for purpose and not defective. The mica redress campaign has highlighted the urgency for a proper legal remedy framework, a clear timeline in which action can be taken, and the assurance that damages recoverable will include economic loss, anxiety and stress suffered as a result of the defects.
Our housing policy
Adequate housing is a human and social right, interdependent with good planning, transport, infrastructural development, and land management. Housing policy should promote good outcomes for children, young people, and those most vulnerable in society such as the elderly and persons with disabilities.