Housing market

Homelessness and housing are very much flavour of the month in Ireland and rightly so. It is also gratifying to see the government not only showing concern but actively implementing constructive plans to help those affected. The following press  release on the Action Plan was issued today by the County and City Management Association (CCMA) Housing Committee :

Local authorities have hit the ground running to deliver the Housing and Homelessness Action Plan announced by Minister Coveney this week. Mr Eugene Cummins, chair of the County and City Management Association (CCMA) Housing Committee said that every one of the local authorities welcomed the new plan and will be central to the delivery of the 47,000 units through the investment of €5.35 billion. Already, in 2015 the sector provided over 9,000 homes through a combination of construction,  acquisition, RAS, HAP and lease.

The investment of €5.35billion to deliver 47,000 homes shows a solid commitment by the Government to address the housing and homelessness crisis. This represents a significant increase in the local government social housing stock. There are currently 124,815 local authority social housing units, and the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness will see the social housing stock increase by 37% within five years. Mr Cummins highlighted that the figures relating to the exact mix of delivery will be refined, however it will involve a mix of build, refurbishment, acquisition and lease. The fastest way of delivering units is to buy them. Local authorities have been working with stakeholders such as NAMA to purchase suitable properties. In 2015 the sector acquired 852 units. The sector will be working with the Housing Agency to acquire a further 1,600 units over the period of the plan. Turnkey developments, acquisitions and direct build of homes are also being progressed by local authorities. Plans are advanced to build or acquire a further 9,000 units. Of this, over 3,700 have already been progressed through the approvals process with the Department.

Very quickly we see evidence of the headway being made in terms of delivery. On Wednesday, Minister Coveney announced the second bundle of Public Private Partnership projects, which represents an investment of €100million to deliver 450 housing units in Cork, Roscommon, Clare, Kildare, Galway and Waterford. This followed the first bundle of PPPs is to deliver a similar level of investment in Dublin (Dublin City and South Dublin), Kildare, Wicklow and Louth. A prime example was the announcement of the regeneration of Dolphin’s Barn, a €25 million investment will deliver 100 homes. This project illustrates how the immediate actions will also consider the longer term objective of supporting sustainable communities, with an appropriate mix of tenure and services.

It is important to accommodate the housing needs of everyone, and in that regard the sector is working with both the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government and the Department of Social Protection to deliver the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP). To date, over 11,000 tenancies have been set up in HAP. This is set to increase to 70,000 tenancies by 2020.

The housing crisis needs a multi stakeholder response. A key element of the Action Plan is to stimulate the construction of an average of 25,000 units per annum by the private sector. The local government sector plays an important role in supporting this objective. Local authorities are committed to quick turnaround of planning decisions, where comprehensive planning applications are provided for suitable lands. In addition, councils will use the €200million Infrastructure Fund to open up developable lands by providing roads and other infrastructure required. The local authority staff of engineers, technicians, architects, planners and other professionals are experienced in delivery of capital projects and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government has committed resources to remove any bottlenecks such as resources, planning or procurement, that delivery of the plan will face.

This Action Plan provides the framework to deliver a successful outcome for our society and we look forward to continuing to work with the Minister and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, and all of the other stakeholders, including the private sector, to achieving our common goals.


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