-Flagship Government policy delivers just 814 homes since 2016-
PQ replies provided to Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson Darragh O’Brien have highlighted the low drawdown and limited delivery of the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF.)
Just €16m of the €200m has been spent, to date, almost three years after it was announced as a core part of the Re-Building Ireland policy. 814 homes have been delivered under the scheme to date out of a promised total 19,979. LIHAF invests in infrastructure such as roads and water to prepare sites for construction.
Commenting on the figures Deputy O’Brien stated “The rate of spending from this fund is shockingly low. It promises to deliver almost 20,000 homes but just 814 of those have actually been built after three years. The fund has spent just €16m out of the €200m earmarked for investment, 8% of what was promised. The major time lag between Government promises and delivery is compounding the housing crisis across the country.
“In July 2016 Fine Gael launched their Rebuilding Ireland programme. LIHAF was a flagship policy to deliver affordable homes but it seems to be sinking under the weight of delays. The three-year time lag raises serious questions around the effectiveness of the fund and its operation.
“Clearly the red tape surrounding the scheme is clogging up drawdowns. The fund should be reviewed to ensure it is fit for purpose and its drawdown speeded up to help get bricks and mortar into the ground”, concluded Deputy O’Brien.
- New figures show 10,253 people including 3,749 children homeless in May -
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson Darragh O’Brien TD has described the latest homelessness figures as a national scandal.
The homeless data report reveals that 6,504 adults and 3,749 children are currently homeless. This is the fourth consecutive month the figures have been above 10,000 people.
Deputy Darragh O’Brien stated, “The slight drop in numbers is welcome but the fact that this is the fourth consecutive month that homeless numbers are above 10,000 is startling. We should not lose sight of the damage this failure is inflicting upon thousands of children. This is a disgraceful situation and a scar on our society.
“We need a renewed commitment to a housing first approach to homelessness backed up by real resources. The government must respond with bricks and mortar in the ground to address this national scandal.”
Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien TD has hit out at Government for forcing prospective buyers to wait more than a year to even be able to apply for the Affordable Housing Scheme which has been heralded as the aid to their struggle to secure home ownership.
The Dublin Fingal TD highlighted a number of immediate concerns related to affordable housing during yesterday’s meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Jim Baneham, Head of Housing Delivery in the Housing Agency, and Paul O’Neill of the National Development Finance Agency.
He said, “It’s almost five months since this committee were assured by the Housing Agency that a much-needed Affordable Purchase Scheme would be in place in a matter of weeks.
“The scheme, to provide homes for low or middle-income buyers was signed into law a year ago but those waiting in frustration for an update on the long-promised solution.
“The negotiations around an increase to the service site fund took three years, a lot of time and with the aim of reducing costs but also to get the scheme up and running in the first instance. The four Local Authorities in Dublin have drawn up and accepted criteria for the scheme but there is still absolutely no indication of when the first affordable home will be delivered.
“According to Daft.ie, a single person in Dublin is paying 58.8% of their net take home pay on rent. It is crucial that we give people more options for affordable rental and affordable purchase.
“The income threshold, and particularly the threshold for couples with decent employment on average salaries, is too low. This must be reviewed to allow more perspective home owners to be eligible for the scheme.
“These are ordinary workers enduring extraordinary challenges if not to own their own home, to rent. The colossal expense imposed on people is as much a feature in the housing market now than it ever has been.
“I meet and engage with a lot of those affected each week and I can categorically tell you that the sense of hopelessness is continuing to heighten. We can never accept that handing over half of your take home pay to simply survive is a normal element of an inclusive, rewarding society.”
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Darragh O’Brien TD has said the Government need to come clean on the future of its troubled Affordable Home Loan Scheme in light of the ongoing failure to allocate the 2019 funding which was promised to Local Authorities nationwide.
The scheme is aimed at helping applicants who cannot get a mortgage through the banks to avail of a competitive loan from their local authority.
Speaking in Dáil Éireann this week, the Dublin Fingal TD said, “It’s been six weeks since I last quizzed the Minister regarding the status of the scheme and the funding allocated to it. This is in light of details I received through FOI that at least one Local Authority was not issuing loans to those approved due to delays in granting this year’s funding from Government. I was assured then that the matter was being discussed with the Department of Public Expenditure and would be revolved soon.
“This scheme was the Minister's sole measure to tackle the crisis in housing affordability. Prospective homeowners, desperate to get on the property ladder but unable to afford to buy given the current price of property were assured that this scheme would work. They were encouraged to apply via their Local Authority but thousands of people continue to be left in limbo completely unaware of what stage their application is at and when it might progress.
“Local authorities such as Kildare County Council are not in a position to agree to provide loans to those who have successfully met criteria because the Government has avoided allocating the necessary funding which had been promised for 2019.
“We’re now six months into the year and the Minister continues to refuse to provide a straight answer on what is going to happen next. It’s just not good enough. All of these people were made a promise of a loan and organised their lives on that basis. They are now being left high and dry by a party uninterested in supporting ordinary working people. Eoghan Murphy need to be clear on whether or not he is going to deliver on this promise and if he is, when?”
- FF legislation can reform Owner Management Company laws to ensure apartment owners have adequate sinking funds in place –
It has emerged today that the development company responsible for the construction of 104 apartment dwellings in Cathedral Court, Dublin 8 has informed owners that that will be expected to foot the bill for remediation works to repair the safety defects in their apartment block.
According to the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, three out of four property managers say less than 25% of apartment building have set aside adequate funding for such works. In addition, almost 90% of managers say apartment buildings under their management – also known as Multi Unit Development or MUDs - have been forced to raise additional levies.
Commenting in response, Housing Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien TD said, “This is sadly not the first time in Ireland that a development company has expected apartment owners to pay for repairs to the serious fire safety shortcomings identified in their complex. This latest dispute does however, once again expose the need to reform and improve the laws around sinking funds and Owner Management Companies.
“Our party’s bill, the Multi-Unit Developments (Amendment) (Sinking Fund) Bill 2018 is designed to strengthen the existing laws in this sector including the provision of sinking funds for essential maintenance investment in the property such as fire safety or water supply infrastructure. This bill is due to proceed in the Oireachtas at Second Stage ahead of the summer recess.
“Other parties indicated in the Dáil last Thursday that they would be lending their support to our additional bill to set up a new Ombudsman for Owner Management Companies (OMCs) to observe the financial planning of each OMC.
Apartments complexes and other similar dwellings around the country inevitably require maintenance and investment as they age. As much of an emergency it is to construct housing right now, we cannot allow a situation where developers are essentially throwing up poor standard, largely unsafe units then expecting owners to foot the cost for remedial works years down the line,” he concluded.
- Strengthening the complaints system and properly empowering the RTB will help deal with extreme cases –
This afternoon, Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien TD introduced a bill in Dáil Éireann which will extend the capacity of the Residential Tenancies Board to address the anti-social behaviour of some tenants residing in housing estates across the country.
Commenting on the legislation, O’Brien said, “There are too many residents living in housing estates nationwide that feel as though they are being held hostage by a small minority of rogue tenants engaging in anti-social behaviour and in some cases, landlords refusing to properly maintain the exterior of their dwelling.
“As it stands only those immediately affected can make a complaint regarding anti-social behaviour. This often means people are intimated by their neighbour(s) and therefore deterred to submit or pursue a complaint for the matter to be resolved.
“Our bill is aimed at opening up that process so that those affected can request a public or legal representative to make a complaint, thereby avoiding any threat of physical or verbal intimidation.
“Setting out a new obligation for a property owner to maintain the exterior upkeep of the house or dwelling will give neighbours the footing to highlight issues. Allowing piles of unsightly rubbish to build up to potentially attract rodents or leaving a property to fall into disrepair will now both be among the legitimate grounds for complaint.
“The Residential Tenancies Board do not have the power to evict those in extreme circumstances that are known to make the lives of neighbouring residents incredibly difficult. Neither can negligent landlords be fined.
“This bill, which forms part of our broader party policy to address anti-social behaviour, can tackle issues in housing estates head on. Together with new measures such as a Brighter Streets campaign to invest in public lighting and placing a Resident Support Worker in public housing developments will help to address the problems caused the relentless few that engage in anti-social behaviour.
“Ultimately, increasing the Garda presence by boosting both the number of Gardaí on the beat and the resources allocated to them is at the centre of ever having the ability to stamp this behaviour out,” he concluded.