Budget 2016 -Anyone who thinks that NAMA are going to solve our Housing Crisis, is living in Cuckoo Land…
Dáil Diary no 56 -14 October 2015
The Present Fine Gael/ Labour Government are in power for over four and a half years, and one of the most glaring examples of their poor governance has to be their failure to properly address the Housing Crisis, of which Homelessness is just one of the symptoms. Their latest version of a plan, to involve NAMA in the construction of Housing, for the private sector, with 10% social, is one more Neo Liberal answer to a problem that requires a totally different response. We have a problem with supply, we have a problem with quality, we have a problem with the cost of housing and we have a problem with the cost of rent – all of these problems have been exacerbated by NAMA’s fire sale of Residential units and Development land, mostly to US Vulture Funds. The end result is US Vulture Funds 1 – Irish People 0. The goal assist goes to the Irish Government. Here’s my Dáil Budget Speech…
“It was not easy to listen to the two Ministers tell us how wonderful and fair the Government had been. It reminded me of listening to Jose Mourinho tell us that Chelsea was still the best team and that he was the best manager, despite the fact that they were still losing football matches.
It has been obvious for a while now that the Taoiseach does not want to have an inquiry into the workings of NAMA, despite all the unanswered questions. Looking at the budget, I can see why. Given NAMA's new role as a State-sponsored developer, I do not think the Taoiseach or the Minister for Finance would want NAMA to be investigated. They certainly would not like the answers they would get if there was to be an independent inquiry.
NAMA is now going to operate as a developer. It was set up as a bad bank that would hold assets until there was a recovery and it has had fire sales to kingdom come. It has supplied 1,400 social housing units, despite promises to provide more. These are the people who are going to provide a social dividend and it is hard to credit that we are going to trust them to solve the housing crisis. The housing and homelessness crisis is worse now than when the Government parties came to power. What have they done to address it? Their failure to properly deal with the crisis will go down as a disgrace. I do not understand the manner of their approach. NAMA will operate as a developer and given that its allocation of social housing units will be only 10%, these units will be for the private sector. Will NAMA sell them to US vulture funds which, in turn, will rent them to people who, in turn, will have to receive a rent supplement from the Government to pay for them? In that way, the Government will be giving an indirect subsidy to landlords. Is that what will happen? Some 20,000 units will be built at a cost of €4.5 billion, which works out at an average cost of €225,000 each and that is not counting the cost of land which NAMA already possesses. Half of the units included in Project Arrow are residential. I would like to know for how much these residential units will be sold? I will bet with any of the Deputies opposite that NAMA will not get €100,000 each for them. Where is the sense in the Government selling Project Arrow to another US vulture fund that will drive up rental and house prices in this city? The Government will not solve the housing crisis until it organises for the State, through the local authorities, to build social housing. If it does not organise for the building of social housing, it will not deal with the homeless crisis.
If it does not build social housing, rents will continue to be exorbitant and house prices will remain too high. That is at the root of the problem. The Government cannot expect the private sector to solve its problems. Those involved in the sector do not want to build now and the Government is stating NAMA will do it instead. Those involved in the private sector do not want to build because they cannot possibly compete with NAMA's sales and those of the banks, both of which have sold houses for less than half of what it costs to build. There is a value on a property or a house which is at least worth what it costs to build. However, I have seen NAMA sell a lot of properties for less than half of what it costs to build them. Does this represent good governance? The Government has told us how wonderful and fair it is, yet it has allowed this to happen. It is allowing the taxpayer to pick up the tab and the US vulture funds to reap the rewards. Is this a great government? It is not.”