Dublin will take 10 years to copy ‘Vienna model’ for housing, says expert

Experts say that it would take 10 years to copy the Vienna Model

Reported by Ellie Donnelly, Irish Independent.

The much-championed ‘Vienna model’ for affordable housing would take 10 years to have an impact in Ireland, according to Michaele Bankel, vice president of the Austrian capital’s housing authority.

In Vienna, where 45pc of housing is classified as social or affordable, people can earn as much as €53,000 a year and qualify for city-owned and subsidised apartments.

Earlier this year Dublin City Council said it is willing adopt a new way of delivering affordable homes, based on this model.

However, it says the lack of supply and land scarcity will make this new approach extremely challenging.

At a ‘Home for Life’ conference, held at Davy Stockbrokers yesterday, former head of the Housing Agency Conor Skehan said the Vienna Model had to be put into context, as policy and politics is “cultural”.

Paul Cunningham, chief executive of Home for Life, which operates the mortgage-to-rent scheme in Ireland, said a lack of consistent policy was an issue.

“There is no consistent approach between where the private sits and where the public sits in relation to housing and it does cause a difficulty,” Mr Cunningham said.

“We have to pay for this, but who pays? We don’t like direct taxes, like for water. In Vienna the tenant pays a higher percentage than they do in Ireland for social housing.

“We also need to deliver solutions for people who are in severe mortgage arrears,” he added.

The Vienna model is internationally regarded for supplying sustainable, high-quality residential development.

The scheme provides homes for around one in four people in the Austrian capital.

Wiener Wohnen, the authority which manages more than 220,000 homes in the Vienna, receives almost €500m annually from the city in subsidies, €212m of which it spends on building apartments.

The scheme is funded by a property tax and the authority builds on average 7,000 apartments each year.

In contrast, there were just 4,251 social houses built in Ireland last year, comprising of 2,022 local authority builds and 1,338 delivered by approved housing bodies.

Ireland is in the midst of a housing crisis, with increasingly high rents making it more difficult for first-time buyers to meet Central Bank lending requirements.

Those who can afford to buy are frequently being pushed out of the market by big corporations or “cuckoo funds”.

Mr Skehan said Irish people need to decide who pays for affordable housing.

“The Vienna model will have a cost and we have to decide if this is something we are willing to bear,” he said.

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