Brian Stanley, Charlie Flanagan, Cllr Tom Mulhall, Simon Coveney, Laois CC CEO at a social housing site in 2016 where 33 houses were built. Picture: Alf Harvey
Laois County Council should use land on the Stradbally Road in Portlaoise as an opportunity to adopt a new way to provide affordable housing, according to Sinn Féin.
Brian Stanley TD and Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley have made a joint submission to consultants drawing up a masterplan for 25-acres at Tyrell's land site acquired by the council. They say this offers a unique opportunity to provide badly needed housing for Laois citizens.
“The demand for social and affordable housing continues to grow, this means that any plan must have a large social housing component. It needs to cater for inter-generational accommodation and a range of family sizes consisting of one, two, three and four-bedroom units.
“The housing in this development must cater for a range of income groups and include affordable housing on the private market. Such accommodation can consist of ‘affordable to purchase’ housing and what is referred to as ‘cost rentals’.
“Previous affordable housing schemes provided by LCC either by turnkey or direct build were successful and many families who purchased their homes through the scheme would otherwise be unable to do so. An affordable housing scheme is now badly needed again,” they said.
The TD and councillor propose a new approach that allows long term renting.
“Cost rental accommodation is similarly required for those in the income bracket mentioned above or who are of an age that they cannot obtain a loan for housing.
“This model of housing provision is common in other EU countries and is typically provided by local authorities, housing associations and not for profit housing trusts. The basic principle is that the rent is fixed at a level to finance the initial investments and ongoing maintenance over a 30 to 40 year period.
"While the rent would be higher than council or social housing, it works out less than those in the private market as there is no profit mark up.
“The other major benefit is the security of tenure, in that tenants have a home for life provided they comply with the terms of the tenancy agreement. At present the lack of security of tenure and the absence of affordable private rented accommodation is causing untold stress and financial hardship for many households,” said the submission.
The Sinn Féin submission said it is important that the maximum benefit is derived from the development of the land.