The Senedd has called on the Welsh Government to "act immediately to address the housing crisis," with crucial questions over affordability, second homes and the quality of the nation's housing stock.

Mabon ap Gwynfor told MSs housing was "a common factor" in both the challenges of climate change and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and said rising property prices were driving inequalities and homelessness, with 67,000 people on waiting lists for social homes nationwide.

"More wealth is being accumulated in the hands of a small number of people, who are buying larger numbers of properties, while the poor become poorer and homelessness is increasing," he told the Senedd. "Yes, the housing crisis is cross-departmental. But, in starting to solve it, we can achieve a better quality of life for tens of thousands of people."

Ap Gwynfor said "our society has a perverse relationship with property" and home ownership was "now seen as a financial investment for personal economic benefit, not as an integral part of life – the right to a roof over one's head and the right to live at home".

Promises of more jobs and wealth creation could only go so far to mending that relationship, the Dwyfor Meirionnydd MS said, before arguing for ministers to "intervene" by, for example, hiking land transaction tax or by bringing in a new planning category for second homes.

"Without far-reaching intervention, wages would need to double or house values would need to halve in order to bring balance back to the market," he told the Senedd, adding: "The free market is working against the people of Wales."

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Welsh Labour MS Mike Hedges said ministers needed to build more council houses and bring the nation's roughly 43,000 empty properties back into use as matters of priority.

"We must build enough affordable homes to meet Wales's projected housing needs over the next five years," the Swansea East MS said. "This should be achieved through the empowerment of local councils to make full use of their borrowing powers and borrowing capacity to build homes and bring back empty homes into useful social rent."

Brecon and Radnorshire MS James Evans said home ownership was "out of reach for a large proportion of my generation and others".

"For those of us yet to get on the housing ladder it feels like an insurmountable challenge," the Welsh Conservative MS told the Senedd. "The affordable housing just isn't there in the quantities we need it, and we cannot deliver unless the Welsh Government shows real ambition to build more homes and dedicate large-scale investment, relax planning applications, and grow the skills we need within our skills sector to actually build the homes we need."

Coronavirus had "highlighted the huge challenges that people face who don't have a permanent home," said Julie James, the government's climate change minister, who is responsible for housing.

She reiterated the government's commitment to building 20,000 low-carbon social homes over the next five years, and said Wales had helped 10,000 people avoid homelessness during the pandemic by finding them temporary accommodation.

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On second homes, James said the government recognised "very severe issues" in some parts of Wales including "the long-term sustainability of our Welsh-speaking heartlands".

"Our aim is clear and, I think, shared – we ensure that young people continue to afford to live in the communities they have grown up in, as well as ensuring the long-term sustainability and vibrancy of those communities," the minister told the Senedd.

A Conservative amendment, calling for more specific methods of addressing the housing crisis, was selected but at the end of the debate, no Senedd member objected to ap Gwynfor's motion being passed unamended.