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The state is now leasing homes that it originally built from investment funds.

The report in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post by Killian Woods on the leasing of homes by South Dublin County Council is yet another example of the wasteful absurdities that blight housing policy in the state.

Homes that were originally built by the local authority, then leased to tenants who then defaulted and repossessed, and were then subsequently sold to institutional funds are now being leased back by SDCC. These are now being rented to tenants at around €1,500 a month but with no option to purchase.

Similar arrangements are in place in other local authority areas and will cost in the region of €1 billion over the terms of the leases for 2,400 homes which are part of the scheme in 2021. That money could build twice that many houses at current construction costs.

It further underlines that all of the promises by the state to tackle this financially preposterous finger in dam mess mean nothing. The funds continue to hoover up homes with the specific intent not only to rent rather than sell , but also to take advantage of the misnomered “social housing “ strategy which is increasingly anti social in its outcomes.

The leasing of homes under this arrangement does tick boxes under the “social housing” rubric, as it takes people off the housing list and bolsters the % of housing under the auspices of the local authority that can be thus designated.

While the main opposition party Sinn Féin is making massive political capital through its stated opposition to the current government’s strategy, it has proven itself not to be any more successful when it has some power to implement housing policy through local authorities.

That was the case in Dublin City Council when the current institutional landlord high rise boom took off. Sinn Féin and others approved this once the “social housing” allocation was boxed off, regardless of cost or indeed community cohesion.

Sinn Féin was also both the largest party and part of the governing majority on South Dublin County Council when much of its current plan was agreed to between 2014 and 2019. The party proved itself to be totally incompetent as a local authority governing party during that period which accounted for the dramatic collapse in its local election vote in 2019.

Even now, where it has a presence on local authorities, the actions of its councillors have shown anything but evidence of a coherent strategy on Sinn Féin’s part. In July, party housing spokesperson Éoin Ó Broin, whose soundbites constitute what there is of their plan, was greatly embarrassed by the Sinn Féin councillors on Wicklow County Council.

They voted against a social housing development on publicly owned land at Kilbride Lodge, Bray, something which is supposed to be at the very heart of Sinn Féin housing policy. Among the objectors was the father of Sinn Féin TD John Brady who opposed the development on the grounds that a very old tree would have to be knocked down.

The councillors who opposed were no doubt doing as councillors do from every party; opposing stuff that locals found to present a threat to the existing community. Perhaps the four storey block does. That is the nature of actual politics which trumps soi disant ideological preoccupations every time.

So there is no plausible opposition solution to all of this. That there even appears to be is due to the fact that the current ruling coalition is throwing money away to the short term benefit of reducing housing lists, but to the long term gain of the investor funds, and the long term detriment of not only those trying to get a place to live, but of Irish society in general.

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