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Minister Coveney Launches Pillar 2 under Rebuilding Ireland – Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness

Published on Thursday, 06 Oct 2016
Rebuilding Ireland logo
  • New up-front Part V funding to be provided from next year - €140M
  • New Repair & Leasing Scheme - €6m to kick-start in 2017  - €140M to 2021
  • New Buy and Renew initiative - €25m in 2017 rising up to €50m in 2018
  • €13m additional funding for extra 750 voids – 2,000 to be delivered this year
  • On site 2016; 117 separate build projects delivering 1,600 units; this includes 76 separate LA projects delivering 920 units, & 41 separate Approved Housing Body (AHB) build projects delivering 680 units.

Mr. Simon Coveney T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, today (6 October) outlined the details of Pillar 2 ‘Accelerate Social Housing’ under “Rebuilding Ireland – an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness”. The Action Plan was launched on 19 July and today the Minister will outline the detail and progress on Pillar 2 since the launch.  Minister Coveney was joined by Ministers of State, Damien English and Catherine Byrne at Charlemont Street where Dublin City Council is engaged in a major Private Public Partnership (PPP) scheme which will supply homes for families on the housing waiting list. Earlier on he had visited an award winning social housing scheme on Maxwell Road, Rathmines.

Rebuilding Ireland sets ambitious targets to double the annual level of residential construction to 25,000 homes and deliver 47,000 units of social housing in the period to 2021, while at the same time making the best use of the existing housing stock and laying the foundations for a more vibrant and responsive private rented sector

“There has been much commentary around the fact that last year Local Authorities only built 75 homes, even though we provided accommodation for 13,000 families through all the delivery programmes.We will increase on that this year as we roll out the Action Plan and we will deliver homes for families on the waiting lists. Local Authorities have recruited 500 necessary staffand they now have a pipeline of projects that will be delivered as quickly as possible. Since May I have approved projects with a value of €150m, which will see 800 homes delivered. In 2017 local authorities & approved housing bodies will provide 5,050 homes through building, buying & leasing. This will be a major kick start to the delivery of 47,000 social homes at a cost of €5.35 billion by the end of 2021 which is a key priority for me,” said Minister Coveney.

Some of the main commitments under Pillar 2:

  • 47,000 social housing units delivered by 2021, supported by investment of €5.35 billion
  • Accelerated Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) delivery – [12,000 in 2016 and 15,000 in 2017]
  • Mixed-tenure developments on State lands and other lands
  • Establishment of a dedicated Housing Delivery Office and Housing Procurement Unit
  • Extensive supports for Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies – e.g. AHB Innovation Fund
  • Streamlined approval processes (e.g. Part 8 planning)
  • Housing for specific groups: meeting the needs of the vulnerable.
  • Increased target for Housing Adaptation Grants drawdown [increasing from 8,000 in 2016 to 10,000 in 2017]
  • Pilots to support innovative design and housing solutions for older people
  • Extending National Housing Strategy for People with Disabilities beyond its 2016 timeframe out to 2020

“If we are to achieve two of the core objectives of the Action Plan – increasing supply to a minimum of 25,000 homes per annum and providing the 47,000 social homes committed to we must speed up the mechanism and processes that lead to housing delivery.  I have outlined today details of some of the new mechanisms which will assist in the early delivery of homes for families on local authority waiting lists. We need to change our mindsets and think outside the box when it comes to delivering homes. I have also recently published outline legislation to speed up the planning process.

“Earlier today I visited an award winning social housing scheme on Maxwell Road off the Rathmines Road. This scheme is a great advertisement of how we can integrate social and private housing. But it‘s not just integration that we should be concerned with. We need to future proof our social housing schemes for all eventualities and this should include family types, elderly people and people with disabilities. Officials in my Department are examining how we might better deal with these matters in larger social housing schemes,” ended Minister Coveney.

The Plan is ultimately focussed on delivering more homes for the people who need them.  It includes over 80 separate actions structured under five main Pillars of concerted actions right across Government.

  • Address Homelessness,
  • Accelerate Social Housing,
  • Build More Homes,
  • Improve the Rental sector, and
  • Utilise Existing Housing.

The plan is available on www.rebuildingireland.ie & www.housing.gov.ie

#RebuildingIreland @RebuildingIrl

ENDS
Note for Editors

Buy and Renewal Initiative

Minister Coveney is introducing a new funding scheme to support Councils and approved housing bodies (AHBs) to purchase and renew housing units in need of remediation, and make them available for social housing use.

There is real potential for Councils to buy houses and suitable premises in cities/towns where there is a need for social housing, to remediate them and make them available to those on the waiting list.  Similarly, approved housing bodies may have an interest in this, particularly where they are seeking town centre locations for specific housing needs.

There is real challenge in this work: renewing vacant and derelict premises can be difficult and costly. Councils also target the provision of social housing where it is needed and will always have regard to sustaining a good ‘mixed tenure’ within communities.

While recognising these challenges, there is also great opportunity in this initiative.  It can be part of the response that Councils make in tackling dereliction and improving streetscapes in urban areas/towns.

Councils and AHBs have been buying second hand housing in recent times to get ‘early delivery’ of new social housing units.  This new initiative will allow them to focus on an area of acquisitions that avoids direct competition with private purchasers for good quality housing stock. It also taps into a potential supply of housing that may be sitting vacant.

This ‘Buy and Renewal Initiative’ will also be complementary to the new ‘Repair & Leasing Initiative’ that the Minister announced in Rebuilding Ireland. It will mean that Councils and AHBs can approach owners of vacant, privately-owned houses in need of repair/remediation, with the option to either lease/repair the housing unit, or to buy and repair/remediate the unit.

Louth County Council is already providing a good example of this work: they’re acquiring premises in Dundalk and Drogheda that are in need of repair/remediation and making them available for social housing.

The Minister will make an initial €25 million available for this initiative in 2017 and proposes to increase this to as much as €50 million in 2018.

Repair and Leasing Scheme

The scheme will bring vacant and unused houses back into use by providing funding to repair them and make them available as new homes for families on local authority waiting lists.

The new scheme will operate initially in Waterford and Carlow local authorities and will be made available in other local authority areas over the course of the next 6 months.

Approved Housing Bodies proven record in managing the refurbishment of properties, delivering social housing and being good landlords puts them in an excellent position to play a key role in the success of the scheme. Respond! And Focus Ireland will work together with Waterford and Carlow local authorities to manage the scheme in those areas. As the scheme is rolled out in other local authority areas, AHBs around the country will be funded to deliver new social houses this way.

The scheme is targeted at owners of vacant houses who cannot afford, or access the money, required to bring them up to the standard for rental property. Subject to the suitability of the property for social housing, and the agreement of the property owner, the cost of the necessary repairs will be met upfront by the local authority or approved housing body. In return, the property owner will sign-up to a lease arrangement for a length that is linked to the value of the repairs but is a minimum of ten years. The value of the repairs will then be offset incrementally against the agreed rental income over a defined period within the lease.

A property owner can either choose to arrange a contractor to carry out the repairs themselves, or the local authority or approved housing body can arrange this instead.  Property owners will not be required to take on landlord responsibilities and the local authority or AHB will have ongoing management and maintenance responsibilities.

The benefits of the scheme to a property owner will be:

  • upfront financing for the cost of repairs;
  • guaranteed rent;
  • avoidance of loss of rent during vacant periods;
  • no day to day responsibilities for managing the tenancy or collecting rent; no advertising costs or vacant periods.

Eligibility for the scheme will be determined by the relevant local authority having regard to the location and suitability of the property for social housing and also the extent of repairs that might be required.   The Minister has made €140m available over the course of the next five years. It is anticipated that at least 3,500 vacant houses can be brought back into productive use between now and 2021.   €6m has been provided to fund the scheme in 2017. Early indications are that in excess of 150 new houses can be made available for social housing through the scheme in 2017.

Up-front provision of funding for Part V commitments

In the interest of making homes more affordable, a reduction in development costs is of key interest to this Government. In addition we are mindful of the need for incentives to help move forward stagnated development.  To help address these items we are currently developing a scheme where developments can benefit from the up-front payment for Part V units which are normally paid for on completion.   It is anticipated that the scheme will be in place by the end of this year.  A budget of €140m has been allocated for Part V acquisitions over the initial period of the scheme to the end of 2018.   There are a number of potential positive outcomes to this proposal including a substantial reduction in the funding cost of a project and the ultimate cost to the purchaser, achieving more positive engagement with Part V along with the potential to stimulate construction activity.