Fianna Fáil proposes new State body to build 90,000 homes

A new State authority that would be set up for a three-year period to drive the construction of 90,000 homes will be a key plank of the Fianna Fáil manifesto at the next general election.

The party is drafting a new housing policy that will be unveiled in the spring and sold to the public in the months leading up to the election as the party’s proposed solution to the housing crisis.

Housing has been identified by those across the political spectrum as the likely battleground at the next election, and Cabinet ministers believe Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin want to fight the Government on that issue.

The new authority being proposed by Fianna Fáil would use a mixture of public and private funding to keep it off the State’s balance sheet. It would also invest all Nama’s profits – estimated to be around €3 billion – in house building.

Party sources say Nama would have to be wound up earlier than the intended date of 2020 and are open to recasting the so-called “bad bank” as the new housing agency or establishing something entirely new.

Barry Cowen, the Fianna Fáil housing spokesman, is working on the new policy document. The new agency would be given tightly defined terms of reference, and its first task would be to rapidly build homes for all of those who are homeless.

It would also be able to recommend legislative changes, planning guideline amendments and other proposals to government and would be in place for a “pre-determined timescale” of around three years, according to sources.