A housing activist group claims that 70,000 homes could be provided over five years under a cost rental model.

The Housing Action Now group wants a Fair Rent Homes programme to provide subsidised housing to all income levels similar to schemes in Vienna and Copenhagen.

Some of its members are part of the St Michael's Estate regeneration group which secured the country's first cost rental scheme with plans for 330 units in Inchicore, Dublin.

The St Michael's cost rental scheme is planned to provide homes up to 25% below market level to low and middle income earners by building on public land with low cost loans from the European Investment Bank. Renters pay towards the cost of construction.

The Fair Rent Homes scheme would be open to all income earners meaning that even high earners would have access to public housing. 

SIPTU researcher Michael Taft said the Government could provide the initial €3.5bn necessary with a new semi-state company raising the additional €10.5bn in low cost loans.

He said the Government could afford it as it has been over-compliant on fiscal rules and the effect on the deficit would be accommodated.

Mr Taft said this scheme would mean rents up to 40% below market value and result in rental payments going back into the productive economy instead of going out of the country with Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).