Minister O’Brien publishes social housing output for Q1 & Q2
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD has today (Wednesday 7th October) published the statistical outputs for social housing delivered across Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 of 2020 – from January to the end of June.
The Minister also published the Social Housing Construction Status Report to end June 2020.
As expected, the statistics show that the COVID-19 pandemic has proven a serious impediment to progress. Just under 10,000 households were supported across the first 6 months of this year, under build, acquisition, leasing, HAP and RAS – 35% of the total expected delivery this year.
That included just 1,467 built, acquired or leased homes, which is well below the level that would have been expected at the mid-way stage of the year.
Commenting Minister O’Brien said, “These figures show that delivery of social housing has been very much impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19 in late Q1, and the significant restrictions during Q2.
“Despite the closure of construction sites, local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) continued to prioritise social housing, making the best use of available homes, and through continued processing of HAP applications to ensure that allocations and assistance remained steady throughout.
“As we look ahead, it is extremely important that we mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on overall delivery to the greatest extent possible. We have a goal, to provide housing support to some 27,500 households this year, and despite a challenging first half, I am committed to delivering on that.
“Immediately following my appointment I established a High Level Housing Delivery Group made up of representatives from the CCMA, the Housing Delivery Co-Ordination Office, The Housing Agency, the Irish Council for Social Housing, the Housing Alliance and senior officials. We took stock of the situation, assessed the likely gap in delivery as a result of delays on construction and set about finding opportunities to mitigate.
“I then launched a ‘Call for Housing 2020’, new national call for property owners with vacant properties to make them available for use as social housing, in particular one bed properties, larger family homes and homes that are or can be adapted for those with a disability.
“Following that I secured €40m in funding under the July stimulus to assist local authorities to urgently refurbish vacant social housing stock and make it available for allocation to families and individuals on waiting lists this year.
“It is really important to me that the overall under-delivery on new build, which was unavoidable as a result of COVID-19, doesn’t have a consequential impact on households waiting urgently on keys. These mitigating actions will ensure that we are still providing long term homes to the same number of households, and that’s what matters this year.
“However the focus now rightly turns to getting new builds back on track and new activity continuing to move at pace.
“The Housing Delivery Co-Ordination Office have confirmed to me that:
- Since the easing of restrictions activity has recommencement across all delivery streams and detailed assessments have been undertaken of projected delivery for 2020.
- Local Authorities and AHB’s have been working closely with their construction partners to ensure all opportunities to mitigate the delay to project completion dates are availed of.
“The Social Housing Construction Status Report published today shows that the pipeline for delivery is strong for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. 8,529 social homes are currently onsite and a further 9,084 homes at various stages of the approval process in the pipeline. All stakeholders are mobilised to pursue these with the greatest urgency, while absolutely acknowledging the need for adherence to guidelines on public health.
“While urgently focussed on 2020 activity, establishing solid pipelines for 2021,2022 and 2023 continues. This Government has committed to delivering 50,000 social homes under the Programme for Government and I want a very strong focus of that to be on new build. I want to really see ambition and innovation from local authorities to deliver at scale on their own land.
“To aid this I have recently announced a revised single stage process for Local Authority builds, raising the threshold from €2m to €6m, and I will shortly be announcing details of a new affordable housing scheme.
“I commend local authorities for their ongoing hard work during these challenging times and I encourage them to use all of the resources that I have made available to them to deliver the maximum number of homes over the next few months and into 2021,” concluded Minister O’Brien.