Homes for People not Property for Investors

13 August 2018

Statement by Joe Costello

Labour spokesperson on Urban Regeneration Joe Costello responding to reports about NAMA has said:

"Recent events and recent statistics demonstrate that the housing crisis is going from bad to worse.

"It is disingenuous of Minister Paschal Donohue’s officials to state that the Minister has no role in how NAMA conducts its business and that therefore NAMA can blithely sell off a prime site on the Docklands with capacity for 400 homes to the highest bidder ‘to develop a dedicated private rental scheme.’(Irish Independent, 11th August)

"NAMA’s statutory remit requires it to operate on a commercial basis. But NAMA is a semi state body answerable to the Minister for Finance. It is not independent as the Departmental officials have suggested. Its remit does not allow it to operate against the wider Interests of the State or the express needs of the Minister for Finance, other Government Ministers or the needs of the people.

"The sale of 400 units for private rental investment will inevitably push up rents and undermine the Government’s efforts to provide social and affordable homes in this time of unprecedented housing crisis. This alone is grounds for intervention.

"The sale will bring a handsome return to NAMA and enable it to hand over more money to the Exchequer from its disposal of impaired assets. But it is a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. In the long term it will increase the State’s bill for providing social and affordable housing and it will increase the delay in doing so, as such suitable sites marketed by NAMA are snapped up by investors in the lucrative but exorbitant rental market.

"In any case, NAMA has already made €4 billion from such site disposals since it was established in 2010. It has brought the State a handsome return on the impaired State assets that were entrusted to it eight years ago when the economy collapsed.

"It is now time for NAMA to become a dedicated housing authority. It is time to cease the sale of State assets and instead to focus on site development. Nama still retains large parcels of development land. Much of this land is adjacent to public lands owned by the State, the local authorities and semi-state bodies. Overnight NAMA can become the driver of home construction for the Government. There is absolutely no reason why Paschal Donohue with the stroke of a pen cannot convert NAMA into a new semi state body for the delivery of homes for those who are homeless and for those who are seeking to buy but who can’t do so because they are crippled by the high rents demanded by those investment companies that NAMA is promoting at present.

"I am calling on Minister to seize the initiative and to take a bold and practical step to tackle the housing crisis."