Minister signals that couples with combined income of more than €75k will be eligible for affordable homes scheme

HOUSING Minister Darragh O’Brien has signalled that couples who have a gross combined income of more than €75,000 will be eligible for a new affordable homes scheme.

He also told the Dáil that he intends the guide price for such housing to be between €160,000 and €260,000 as he clashed with Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin on the issue.

It came after Mr Ó Broin asked him which of two models Mr O’Brien plans to use for the new scheme – providing homes at what it cost to build them or one involving shared equity.

Mr Ó Broin criticised the shared equity model saying it was used by Fianna Fáil before the last economic crash and left many people in mortgage arrears.

He said in instances where the guide price is €250,000 to €260,000 people would end up paying around €300,000 and that’s not “genuinely affordable”.

He said the “full cost recovery model” would allow for “genuinely affordable homes” to be delivered.

Mr O’Brien replied to Mr Ó Broin saying: “I know sometimes deputy you think you have all the answers on it but you don’t.

“There’s not just two mechanisms to deliver affordable homes”.ADVERTISEMENT   Learn more

He said his focus will be the delivering public homes on public land and delivering affordable homes and cost rental.

Mr O’Brien said :”it’s important we get it right” and he wouldn’t restrict himself to any particular scheme at this stage.

“My priority is making sure that couples and individuals here are going to be able to buy affordable homes that are truly affordable,” he said.

He also suggested there shouldn’t be a ‘salary cap’ of €75,000 for couples as has had been included in recent Sinn Féin proposals.

He said that couples in some urban areas including Dublin who have average incomes over that threshold should be included in an affordable homes scheme.

Mr Ó Broin accused Mr O’Brien of evading the question and again challenged him to say which model of delivery he favours.

He said: “the sooner the minister decides which of those models he is going to go with, the sooner hardworking families are going to know if this government is going to deliver genuinely affordable homes or like the last Fianna Fáil government homes that look affordable, but aren’t and get them into trouble at a later stage.”

Mr O’Brien attacked Sinn Féin proposals on affordable housing which he claimed would bring in an “inferior” and “unworkable” scheme.

He argued that it would have have left “over 40pc of those who need affordable housing out of the system on the basis of the arbitrary cap… of €75,000 for a couple.”

Mr Ó Broin attempted to interrupt Mr O’Brien and the minister told him “the public out there don’t want to see you, shouting at me or bickering with me.

“What they want to see is an affordable purchase scheme that delivers for them and that’s what this government intends to do.

“When I have that plan, I will publish it,” he added.

Later in response to a question on affordable housing from another deputy Mr O’Brien said: “We won’t exclude couples that earn over €75,000 unlike other parties.”

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