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Will the government’s ‘Housing For All’ plan finally solve Ireland’s social housing crisis?

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Will the government’s ‘Housing For All’ plan finally solve Ireland’s social housing crisis?

Will the government’s ‘Housing For All’ plan finally solve Ireland’s social housing crisis?
September 04
15:00 2021

Social housing in Ireland is at crisis levels due to a booming population and a limited supply of residential properties.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is finally expected to unveil his much-delayed Housing For All policy programme this week.

A special standalone Cabinet meeting was held on Monday to approve the plan, which aims to resolve the housing crisis by setting very ambitious targets for completions of social and affordable homes, as well as cost rental homes.

The Housing For All strategy, which was due to be launched in early August before it was delayed because it was not ready, will lay out the government’s housing policy position and direction for the next five years.

It will allocate billions of euro in spending towards tackling the crisis and will replace the ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ scheme which was launched by the Fine Gael-led minority government in 2016.

Background

The challenge faced by the country’s leaders at present is to deliver housing supply sufficient to meet demand at a price that is affordable, accessible and sustainable.

Before the Covid-19 crisis began, Ireland faced substantial challenges in the property sector, including insufficient housing output, acute affordability pressures in the private rental sector and high unmet need for social housing.

With the additional pressures caused by Covid-19, the path towards home ownership is now even trickier to navigate.

A recent report from the Simon Communities found there was a 20 per cent decrease in the availability of affordable rental properties across Ireland between March and June.

The ‘Locked Out of the Market’ report, published earlier this month, examines the experience of people on a low income and dependent on housing assistance payment (HAP) to access housing in the private rental market.

The report found that there were 2,208 properties available to rent at any price within the 16 areas examined over three dates in June.

Of these, there were 906 properties available to rent within a standard or discretionary Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) limit in at least one of the four household categories examined, a 14 per cent decrease on the 1,055 properties which were available within at least one HAP category in December.

The housing charity warned that the tightening of supply and erosion of affordability in the private rental market will lead to increased homeless rates.

Will the Housing For All plan deliver on its promise to tackle the social housing crisis?
Minister O’Brien has promised that the Housing For All policy will deliver social housing in Ireland “on a scale never seen before”.

Speaking at an engagement in Co Clare on Friday, Mr O’Brien said the multi-annual housing plan will have a “massive emphasis on affordable housing”.

“We will make a big dent in the housing crisis,” he said. “We have the expertise, we have the wherewithal, we have the knowledge and capability to make real inroads into the housing situation.

“I want to make sure that normal working individuals and families who feel they can’t afford a home will be able to do so.”

Minister O’Brien’s comments echo what Taoiseach Micheál Martin said about the Housing For All plan back in July, vowing that it will bring about a “step change” in the construction of social and affordable housing.

“Housing For All will represent the largest investment in the history of the state in social housing over a sustained period,” he said. “It will also represent a very significant state intervention in providing affordable homes on state lands for people who need to be able to access affordable housing.”

Government investment needed to solve the social housing crisis

An increase in social housing stock is vital in order to sustain the property sector and reduce house and rent prices into the future. Sinn Fein’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said that a pledge to increase government investment in social and affordable homes must be at the forefront of the Housing For All plan.

“The single most important thing for the government is to dramatically increase direct investment in social and affordable homes, directly delivered by local authorities, approved housing bodies and others,” Mr Ó Broin told Buzz.

“So we’ll be paying close attention to how much extra capital spending is to be allocated for next year and the year after, and what the actual targets are for the delivery of both social and affordable homes.

“The target of 10,000 new social homes to be added to the socialising stock last year and this year will be missed because of Covid.

“10,000 was never enough in the first place and it hasn’t been met, so we need to see increased investment in social housing to bridge that 10,000, up to 12,000-plus. But we also need to see at least 8,000 affordable homes both to rent and buy delivered by government.

“That has to be at the centre [of the Housing For All plan].

Mr Ó Broin continued: “Government can talk all it wants about what it does in the private sector. But the single thing the government control above and beyond everything is how many homes they themselves deliver, and that really comes down to how much money the government puts down on the table and what targets they then agree with the local authority and the approved housing body.”

Source: Buzz.ie

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