To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the status of his Department's policy on direct housing acquisition from the private sector for social housing proposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Over the period 2016-2021, under Rebuilding Ireland, 50,000 additional social homes are to be delivered through build, acquisition and leasing schemes. Through the supports made available from my Department, funding is available to all local authorities to deliver additional social housing stock through a range of initiatives, including, where appropriate, the acquisition of new and previously owned houses/apartments from the private market.
As housing authorities, it is a matter in the first instance for each local authority to determine the suitability of any units for acquisition. Indeed, responsibility for identifying and undertaking such social housing acquisitions is largely delegated to local authorities, so that they may respond flexibly to all opportunities to provide new social housing in their functional areas. Funding is provided on the basis that the houses are suitable for social housing use and are suitable also in terms of a range of other considerations, including sensitivity to local markets and value for money. Details on the number of social houses purchased by all local authorities are available on my Department's website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision.
In addition to direct acquisitions by local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) may acquire properties for social housing under the Capital Assistance Scheme and the Capital Advance Leasing Facility.
Harnessing the capacity of existing vacant properties for social housing is a high priority for the Government. The establishment of the €70m Housing Agency fund for the acquisition of vacant properties from banks and investors for social housing use is an innovative new delivery stream and, through providing the Housing Agency with direct access to capital funding, the acquisition process for portfolio properties has been streamlined. The Housing Agency have made significant advances in terms of acquisitions to date and have been liaising with local authorities and AHBs nationwide. To date, the purchase of 383 properties has been completed.
A key priority under Rebuilding Ireland is to increase the level of newly built social housing on a year by year basis. In 2016 and 2017, delivery programmes focussed on harnessing the best options available to secure early and increased delivery. This included acquisitions of vacant stock nationally, completions of unfinished estates, advancing straightforward build projects that could proceed quickly and ensuring that maximum use was secured from existing local authority housing, while in parallel the new-build pipeline was expanded significantly to underpin the much increased delivery projected for the years 2018 to 2021.
In 2018, we will see the results of enhanced building capacity across Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies, which will further enhance our scope to meet individuals’ and families’ needs across the country through additional stock. The total target for all the building programmes in 2018 is 4,969 units, which is more than 50% higher than the corresponding 2017 target.
All Parliamentary Questions I make about Housing, Planning and Local Government and their answers can be viewed in this section