To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government when the affordable purchase scheme will fully commence; the number of affordable purchase scheme units to be provided in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Under the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, the Government's commitment to an ambitious delivery agenda in relation to social housing is clear and substantial progress continues to be made to expand the social housing programme very significantly from a virtual standstill position a number of years ago.
As Minister, I have been clear that we also need to address issues of housing affordability, recognising the pressures that exist for low- to middle-income households, particularly in Dublin and certain other of our main urban centres.
In order to underpin progress in this area, I have now commenced the relevant provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, the effect of which is to place the new scheme for affordable purchase on a statutory footing. From engagements with the local authorities in Dublin, the wider Greater Dublin Area, as well as Cork and Galway cities, their initial estimates suggest that they have lands with the potential to deliver some 4,000 new affordable homes. My Department is continuing to work with the key local authorities and the Housing Agency to identify sites which would see the level of ambition increase to at least 10,000 new affordable homes from local authority owned land, and that analysis is progressing well.
With regard to cost rental, I am determined for it to become a major part of our rental landscape in the future. It is clear that there is a gap between social housing and the rental market that needs to be filled, making a sustainable impact on housing affordability, national competitiveness, and the attractiveness of our main urban centres as places to live and work.
The Housing Agency, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and a number of Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) have been working to get our first cost rental pilot, at Enniskerry Road, ready for tenders to issue shortly. In parallel, Dublin City Council, my Department and the National Development Finance Agency are undertaking detailed modelling and financial appraisal on a major site, at St. Michael’s Estate in Inchicore, to assess its suitability for a significant cost rental development. The work of that multi-disciplinary team is progressing well and should be concluded shortly.
In order to support local authorities to get their sites ready for affordable housing, I have decided to provide additional funding for enabling infrastructure via the Serviced Sites Fund. Given that housing-related infrastructure will now be able to avail of funding under the €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, I am re-directing the €50m funding for Phase 2 of the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund to the Serviced Sites Fund, increasing the scale of the fund from the previously announced €25m to €75m. When local authority co-funding is included, an overall minimum investment of €100 million will be provided to those sites that require infrastructural investment in order for them to be brought into use for affordable housing. In order to drive early activity, I will be inviting applications for funding under the Serviced Sites Fund by the end of next week.
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