TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has said it is the Government’s priority to look after first-time buyers who are part of a generation that “is the most disadvantaged in terms of accessing housing”.
Speaking at City Hall on Sunday, he said the Government wants people to be able to buy houses at affordable prices and that supply is “a big issue”.
“We want people to be able to buy houses at affordable levels. Supply is a big issue for us in the housing market and Covid-19 restrictions for the first three months [of this year] has reduced construction, there’s nothing we can do to avoid that in terms of the public health crisis.
“But we’re going to do everything we possibly can to provide as many houses as we can at affordable levels to young people in this country,” he said.
In terms of specific measures, he said Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien are looking at the situation from their perspectives.
He said that the State will provide 12,750 social houses this year, of which 9,500 will be going to build but said that some targets have been hit by Covid.
He pointed to the private sector not being as strong as it once was and said steps were being taken to reduce the ability of so-called cuckoo funds to buy swathes of new houses.
“When you take last year, there were only 20,000 houses built, 8,000 of those were social houses so the private sector is not as strong actually in Ireland as it once was,” he said.
Mr Martin said the State, through one scheme or another, is “the big factor in housing provision and affordable housing” and that the issue of affordability “is a huge problem”.
He said that 33,000 houses per annum are needed to provide for the demand and that the Government is determined to deliver on its target of 25,000 houses this year notwithstanding Covid-19.
Mr Martin said “quite a number of new initiatives have come forward”, including a similar programme to last year’s Voids Stimulus Programme which saw 3,000 local authority houses which had fallen into disuse refurbished to relet within a timeframe of six months.
“Anything we can do in terms of housing, we’re going to do because it’s the number one crisis facing people, young people, in particular, who are in search of a new home, it’s something that worries me a lot.
“This generation is the most disadvantaged in terms of accessing housing to any previous generation,” he said.