Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Fire Safety

Darragh O'Brien


62. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to assist residents of multi-unit developments and housing estates that do not meet fire safety standards and building regulations. [47096/18]

The Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, requested the national directorate for fire and emergency management to convene and co-ordinate a task force to lead a reappraisal if our approach to fire safety in Ireland. What is the status of the work of that task force? The building defects and fire safety issues at Priory Hall and Longboat Quay have been well publicised. Unfortunately, there are many more similar buildings around the country. What plans does the Minister have to assist residents of multi-unit developments, in particular, and housing estates that do not meet fire safety standards and building regulations?

Primary responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the building regulations rests with the owners, designers and builders of buildings. As such, in general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, namely, the homeowner, the builder, the developer and-or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme.

It is incumbent on the parties responsible for poor workmanship and-or the supply of defective materials to face up to their responsibilities and to take appropriate action to provide remedies for the affected homeowners. In addition, when a building is constructed and occupied, statutory responsibility for safety is assigned by section 18(2) of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003 to the person having control of the building. The person having control is required to take reasonable measures to guard against the outbreak of fire and to ensure the safety of persons in the event of fire.

In multi-unit developments, the person having control is generally the owner management company. Where apartment buildings that are defective from a fire safety perspective come to the attention of the local authority fire services, they work with management companies and other stakeholders to ensure that appropriate levels of fire safety are achieved to minimise the risk to life.

In response to the many building failures that emerged in the last decade, my Department has been driving a comprehensive building control reform agenda. The measures involved include the introduction of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014,  the establishment of a national building control management project and progressing primary legislation such as the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill through the Houses. The aim is to promote a culture of competence, good practice and compliance with the building regulations in the construction sector and this will continue to be the subject of focused attention in the months and years ahead.

In regard to the fire safety task force, in the aftermath of Grenville in June 2017 and in recognition of the fears expressed by the fire safety services, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, under the direction of the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, the national directorate for fire and emergency management was asked to convene and co-ordinate a task force to lead a reappraisal of our approach to fire safety in Ireland. The work of the task force has been completed and its findings are related in the Fire Safety in Ireland report. The report acknowledges the importance of fire safety in apartment buildings. The reply provided to me contains a detailed summary on the work of the task force, which I can provide to the Deputy. In essence, it is estimated that up to 500,000 people live in approximately 200,000 apartments across the country. From a fire safety perspective, the person having control of the apartment and the building-premises is the owner management company. The key to life safety in all apartment buildings is a two-stage fire detection alarm system, together with an evacuation strategy and involving the residents in preventing nuisance alarms and knowing how to react in the event of fire alarms being activated. There is ongoing work in this area. We have asked the local authorities, as the local lead fire authorities, to engage directly with management companies.

Much of the Minister of State's reply restates the obvious. As mentioned by him, approximately 500,000 people live in multi-unit developments. These are the people at the coalface on this issue. I am seeking an update on the implementation of the recommendations in the Fire Safety in Ireland report. What is the mechanism by which the task force reports to the Department? Do I take it from the Minister of State's response that this matter is the responsibility of the owner management companies and residents can sink or swim. Speaking of sinking, the issue is that in many cases the sinking fund is insufficient to deal with building defects and fire safety issues. If the bond holder, insurance company or builder does not return to fix defects, what are the residents to do? Members of the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government will be aware that this issue was raised directly at a meeting of the committee by the Apartment Owners' Network. How often does the Department receive updates on this issue and does it have a handle on the scale of the problem in terms of building defects? Will the Government examine mechanisms to assist in this area? This is a ticking time bomb as many of the owner management companies are verging on insolvency and do not have the funds to carry out the works that are required.

We are working through the recommendations of the fire safety task force and the Minister, Deputy Murphy, recently met representatives of the apartment owners' association to discuss their concerns, specifically those relating to sinking funds and who covers costs etc. It is ongoing work. The key recommendations of the task force were to have the registration of fire safety subcontractors and to outline the roles and responsibilities of building management companies, such as to review and maintain fire safety arrangements, keep a fire safety register and advise residents on what to do in the event of a fire and alarm. All that work is very important. Each local authority fire service should offer training to building management companies on key fire safety matters. They should work with management companies through the process. There is no recommendation for a full investigation of all properties as the number of defects identified was quite low.

They were quantified.

Procedures have been put in place. The work is ongoing but the task force indicated clearly that management companies, owners of properties and resident associations need to deal with local authorities, which are the local building control authorities, to work through the issues. We are very clear where the responsibility lies. We understand and know there are issues around sinking funds, costs and so on and that work is ongoing. The responsibility lies with owners and managers of these properties, including the management companies.

It is good to know that the Department is trying to quantify the issues, as the Minister of State mentioned. He said the level of defects that has come back is quite low. That surprises me to some degree but I suppose it really depends on how seriously one takes the existing defects. The primary issue is fire safety and that is where we have seen the most publicised incidence of people having to be evacuated from apartment blocks and multi-unit developments. There are others out there and I know both the Minister and Minister of State are aware of them, with owner management companies and owners trying to work through those issues. Nobody is working to abrogate those responsibilities but they are seeking support.

The Minister of State said implementation is ongoing but has a timeline been set for the implementation of the recommendations? Does he see this as an ongoing process? Will we get to a stage where we would establish in the area of owner management companies a proper regulator? This would amount to a go-to office for owner management companies that might be able to collate this information. It surprises me somewhat that the level of defects found so far seems to be quite small, according to the response. I do not know the percentage.

The work is ongoing and no final decision has been made as to whether a regulator is required. We are clear that the procedures put in place by the 2014 Act will certainly ensure this will not be an issue in future. We are confident of this and we must ensure we can continuously enforce the procedures through local authorities as the lead building control authorities.

The first interim review was in June and the work is ongoing. It is something on which we will engage directly with each local authority and the management companies. We are very clear where the responsibility lies. It is with the individual owners, management companies and people who built these properties. It is an area of ongoing work and I am conscious that the committee has done much work on this as well that feeds into some of the work we are doing through legislation. It will be an ongoing conversation as we work through this.

Homeless Persons Supports

Eoin Ó Broin


63. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the additional measures that can be put in place on a permanent basis to ensure that all persons sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough have access to safe, secure, accessible and appropriate emergency accommodation in view of the recent tragic deaths on streets of persons engaged with homeless services. [47335/18]

As the Minister knows, the media widely reported two deaths this month of individuals who were accessing homelessness services and had a history of sleeping rough. We do not know the full details of the deaths and it would be wrong for any of us in the House to try to politicise it. Is this a matter of concern? Does the Minister feel there might be gaps in our emergency response to rough sleeping that could be looked at, with additional provision in trying to reduce the possibility of further deaths?

I thank the Deputy for the question. The death of any person sleeping rough on our streets is a tragedy and our sympathies go to the families who have lost loved ones in this way most recently and over the past number of years as each death occurred.

Supporting individuals and families experiencing homelessness is an absolute priority for this Government. Budget 2019 reflects this commitment by allocating an additional €30 million for the provision of homelessness services in 2019. This will increase the total budget available to local authorities to €146 million, a 26% increase on the provision for 2018. Budget 2019 also provides for an additional €60 million in capital funding for the provision of emergency accommodation, which will deliver further emergency facilities for single adults and additional family hubs to support families experiencing homelessness.

Providing additional accommodation for rough sleepers is essential. In September, I wrote to the chief executives of the four Dublin local authorities requesting the delivery of additional emergency accommodation across the Dublin region. A plan submitted to me subsequently by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive will deliver over 200 new permanent beds before the end of the year. Delivery of these additional beds is already under way and all will be in place within the next three to four weeks. That will be in plenty of time for the cold weather spells. We must also recognise that many individuals experiencing homelessness require other supports to assist them to exit homelessness into an independent tenancy. The implementation plan for Housing First, published in September, will deliver permanent housing solutions for rough sleepers and long-term users of emergency accommodation. Building on the success of the 220 tenancies already established, the plan contains targets for each local authority, with an overall national target of 660 additional tenancies to be delivered by 2021. As we move into winter, I have asked all local authorities to ensure that cold weather arrangements are in place for rough sleepers. These arrangements have already been activated in the context of recent cold weather and additional outreach teams are in place to ensure our most vulnerable citizens are being engaged with and supported.

I thank the Minister for his response. As he knows, it is four years since the tragic death of Mr. Jonathan Corry, a young rough sleeper, on the streets just outside this building. What became clear from that case is that even when beds are available in the emergency accommodation system on a given night, and even when local authority or voluntary sector staff engage with rough sleepers, there can still be many significant barriers to people feeling comfortable, safe and secure in emergency accommodation. It is particularly the case for people with complex mental health needs and specifically for those who may have gone through residential detoxification and are genuinely scared to go into dormitory-style hostels because of a fear of relapse.

I am not disputing the additional spending on emergency accommodation or the availability of beds but I am highlighting a more particular problem. There is a cohort of people with very complex needs, as the Minister mentioned. There is emergency accommodation available in Dublin city, for example, and it does not provide them with safe, secure and appropriate emergency accommodation. There are also people, like the young woman who died tragically in Bray earlier this month, living in a part of the country with no emergency accommodation whatever. I am asking the Minister to consider the specific issue and see if there is a way of ensuring these people have safe, secure and appropriate emergency accommodation, which may not be available currently in Dublin and certainly is not available in other parts of the country.

I thank the Deputy for his question. He pointed to a particular case from four years ago that tells us we have been living with this crisis, particularly with individuals sleeping rough and experiencing homelessness, for a number of years. It is why we have people like Fr. Peter McVerry, Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy and Ms Alice Leahy doing such tremendous work for too many years. There is a complexity around this and even when beds are available or when someone might even own a property, people might not be able to deal with all the complexities, even when we include all the supports. We will keep on trying but it will not always be enough. With regard to the facilities and hostels in Dublin in particular, we are rolling out new provisions and we are even replacing old facilities. There is a new facility on St. Stephen's Green run by the Peter McVerry Trust that will take over from where we lost other beds in the system. I visit a number of these facilities if I have the opportunity and the standards are excellent in those I have visited. We have spot checks and we are working with partners on quality standards in emergency accommodation. I know I tend to focus on Dublin but that is because the challenge is very great in Dublin, as we know. This is demand-led where our local authority needs support and resourcing, and it gets them. We ensure we move money in the Department around so those supports are provided where necessary. Where a local authority feels there is a gap, we will help it plug the gap. That is what the extra money is for.

Ms Eileen Gleeson, the director of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, came before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government and told us she was doing a study of mortality among rough sleepers. Unfortunately, the study will stop at approximately 2015 so we will not get more recent data. She said there were not enough step-down beds for rough sleepers, for example, particularly people who went through addiction treatment in the city. We also know that while some of the facilities mentioned are state of the art, an individual may have to go through several weeks, months or sometimes years of night to night dormitory-style accommodation before he or she can access those facilities. For people with complex mental health needs or addiction issues, there is not appropriate supported temporary accommodation available straight away.

All I am asking the Minister to do, in particular in light of the study by the DRHE, is to examine this again to ensure, for example, that no one refuses dormitory-style accommodation because they believe it to be unsafe, insecure or inappropriate or because of the lack of available step-down or temporary accommodation, especially accommodation provided for people with mental health issues.

I have served breakfast in one of the hostels in Dublin. That morning I spoke to the people who had stayed there the previous night about their experiences. Not everyone had a positive experience that night even though they were in a fantastic facility that is doing everything it can. I am aware of the additional supports that we need to put in place.

One of the first meetings I had when I came to this job was to discuss the need for more six-month beds. We are funding those now with our partner organisations and it is important to do that.

The Housing First model is key. The Deputy referred to people having to earn their position. We have to break that thinking and that is what Housing First does. It is not about earning a right to accommodation. It is about getting people into safe secure homes and then wrapping supports around them. Bob Jordan is leading on this with the national plan. The Deputy knows Mr. Jordan and the work he does. He will do a fantastic job. Of the 220 tenancies that have been created, between 80% and 90% have been successful. This means the vast majority have not fallen back into homelessness. They have not found themselves back in the cycle they may have been in for several years. Such is the importance of bringing in models from abroad. When we bring them in, we need to support them fully with financing, a national director and a national plan. That is happening now.

Planning Issues

Darragh O'Brien


64. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to set out the status of An Bord Pleanála’s adherence to statutory timeframes for planning decisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47097/18]

The rate of completion within the legal timeframe in An Bord Pleanála has dropped from 79% to 64% between 2016 and 2017. In that period we have seen an 11% reduction in staff. Average completion time of applications has moved from 15 weeks to 17 weeks. In that context, will the Minister set out the status of An Bord Pleanála's adherence to statutory timeframes for planning decisions? Will the Minister provide an update on any additional resourcing for the board to meet the additional activities and demands it?

Under section 126 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 An Bord Pleanála has a statutory objective to determine planning appeals within 18 weeks. Where the board does not consider it possible or appropriate to reach a decision within 18 weeks, for example, because of the particular complexities of a case or the requirement to hold an oral hearing, it will inform the parties of the reasons for this and will indicate when it intends to make its decision.

It is acknowledged that there has been a reduction in the board's compliance rate with the statutory objective period during the past year due to a number of factors, including a significant increase in the number of cases it has received. At the end of October of this year, the compliance rate for normal planning appeals stood at 38% while the rate stood at 43.5% for all planning cases. A range of measures have been taken to address this, including the appointment of additional board members. I am satisfied, taking account of the increased Exchequer grant of €18.5 million for the board in 2019, which represents a 7% increase on this year, that the measures involved will enable the board to significantly improve its compliance rate. The number of cases decided by the board in the ten months to end October 2018 was up 26% on the corresponding period in 2017 and the board's output is now approximately 250 cases per month.

It is important to note that for large housing developments new streamlined arrangements have been introduced to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments to be made directly to the board. At the end of September of this year, a total of 39 such applications had been made and the board had issued decisions in 29 cases, all of which were made within the prescribed 16-week timeframe, thus delivering a 100% compliance rate in these cases. In addition, planning appeals in respect of housing developments of 30 units or more are prioritised.

The board currently has a complement of 11 members, including a new chairperson, who took up duty on 30 October 2018, and an additional board member, who was engaged in June 2018, in addition to the normal complement of ten members. The board also employs more than 150 staff, including the ten additional dedicated staff engaged in 2017 to support the strategic housing division, which has a 100% compliance rate. My Department will continue to liaise closely with the board to ensure it has appropriate resources to support it in the performance of its functions.

I imagine we all agree that the compliance rates of 38% and 43.5% are particularly low and fall far below what is required. I welcome the additional resources allocated to the board, but the figures would be even lower if the requests for additional or further information in some way masked the figures of completion. Anecdotal evidence from throughout the country is that large schemes have been 18 months and longer with An Bord Pleanála while going through a series of requests for additional information. In some instances, that is perfectly correct but we have seen an increase in requests for further information. When does the Minister believe that we will be able to get back within the targets? Does the Minister have a target date to get back within the statutory timeframe for planning decisions? The Minister mentioned the 39 large housing developments that have been submitted directly to the board. He will be aware of the volume of work that goes into pre-planning for these applications and the discussions with the board in advance of the applications being lodged. Are we looking for An Bord Pleanála to do too much without sufficient resources? The figures certainly bear that out.

The fast-track planning process is an important response that we have made to the current shortage. The board has, within its statutory timeline and within the 100% compliance rate to which I referred, approved 5,400 homes and 4,400 student spaces. Currently, a further 3,000 homes are in hand for decision. The board will do that work within the timelines that have been given.

A new chairperson has been appointed to the board. He has come from the Department and is fully aware of the challenges we face in planning in general because he was involved in Project Ireland 2040 and more specifically in housing because of the work he has done in that area.

An additional board member was appointed this year to help deal with the specific difficulties that we face in housing. Currently, I am considering appointing another board member. Another change I am considering involves reducing the quorum necessary for decisions to be made on smaller cases. We do not need to have the same number of members adjudicating on smaller cases compared to larger cases, which could involve a significant number of homes. Having said that, if an application involves more than 30 homes, it will get special attention anyway.

I referred to the dedicated unit of ten people. The unit is working with two board members and is producing results when it comes to housing. Of course, I have responsibility for more than housing and, therefore, I am working with the new chairperson and the board to drive up compliance rates generally across the board.

Reducing the quorum for smaller cases and setting a lower threshold are sensible suggestions and would represent good use of resources and smarter working. Has the board or the new chairperson set a target completion rate within the statutory timeframe for 2019? While the Minister's response suggests there appears to have been some recent improvement, we need to see vast improvement and delivery. Has the board or the chairperson set a revised completion rate within the statutory timeframe for 2019?

Hundreds of additional cases have been submitted this year compared to the previous year or the year before that. This reflects what is happening in the wider economy. As a result, hundreds more cases are being decided every month than in previous periods. I welcome the support of the Deputy for some of the changes I am considering to help the board better manage its resources.

The new chairperson took up his position 14 days ago, although he has been working with An Bord Pleanála for several years on account of his role in the Department. He has an idea of exactly what he wants to do. He is independent of the Department and the board is independent of me. No doubt, he has taken up the task. I have spoken to him informally since his appointment but in my first official engagement with him as chairperson of the board, we will discuss these issues.

Student Accommodation

Mick Barry


65. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if regulations will be provided to protect the rights of students renting accommodation in an owner-occupied home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47212/18]

Will the Minister provide for regulations to protect the rights of students renting accommodation in owner-occupied homes or so-called digs?

Pillar 4 of the Government's Rebuilding Ireland - Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, which was published in July 2016, focuses on the supply of rented accommodation and includes actions to enhance the supply of student accommodation. The national student accommodation strategy was subsequently launched in July 2017 by the Minister for Education and Skills. The strategy sets a target to facilitate 4,000 students in availing of digs accommodation by the end of 2019, thereby freeing up accommodation in the traditional rental sector. Joint funding of €160,000 for 2017 and 2018 has been committed to the Union of Students in Ireland by the Department of Education and Skills and my Department to finance a full-time student housing officer, the #homesforstudy campaign and training for student accommodation officers. An additional provision has been made for the UCD Students' Union, which is outside the USI. The campaign involved leaflets being delivered to homeowners in targeted locations throughout the country highlighting the potential to earn up to €14,000 tax free under the rent-a-room scheme.

Traditionally, students residing in digs or family homes benefit from the goodwill that exists to ensure both students and homeowners are happy with the arrangement. It is possible for the arrangements to be formalised by way of a licence between the parties, but this is a matter of choice for the parties themselves to agree on.

I do not consider that there is a need for a legal regulatory framework in this area.

Digs accommodation is an integral housing solution for students as well as an important source of revenue and, in some circumstances, social interaction for homeowners. Any attempt at regulating "digs" is highly likely to impact negatively on the supply of this traditional and important source of student accommodation.

The Minister says there is no need for a legal framework and talks about a working alliance with USI. Has he asked USI whether it feels there is a need for a legal framework because, increasingly, I hear about issues and problems that are arising in the digs sector? One in ten students lives in digs. This is not surprising given the fact that the major student accommodation providers in city centres are charging more than €1,000 per month. Students in digs can be evicted at a moment's notice, subjected to rent hikes at short notice with no rent caps applying and have no right to appeal to the RTB if the deposit is not returned to them. There are forms of exploitation in some digs arrangements such as students being asked to mow the lawn, collect the groceries or mind children, all of which are over and above the agreed rent, so there is a need for a regulatory framework and I would like to comment on the examples I have given.

In my interactions with the students union in UCD last year, I do not think the need for regulation was raised with me. The Minister of State, Deputy English, informs me that he does not recall it being raised with him during his meetings with USI. If one in ten students currently lives in student digs, we want to increase that number. We want to reach that target of 4,000 by the end of 2019 because it is a much-needed source of accommodation. Traditionally, it is a cheaper source of accommodation than some of the types of accommodation being built at the moment - the purpose-built student accommodation. We are working on possible text for inclusion as an amendment to see if we can apply rent caps to purpose-built student accommodation similar to those that apply in the rental sector today but the informality of digs work for both sides in many cases. It is not just from a financial point of view; it is also from a social point of view. Anything that might undermine that supply of accommodation could be much more detrimental to students. Less student accommodation will cause further pressure in terms of prices for student accommodation and cause further problems for students who cannot source any accommodation so it will not solve the problem we have at the moment, which involves providing more student spaces. This is happening and we know this because of the numbers that are being delivered. A total of 5,500 have been delivered under the new strategy launched in 2016 and 4,800 are under construction. We need these as well as more digs.

I would say that students should have legal protection for their deposits; rent controls should apply; if there are grounds for eviction, they should not be unlimited; and any student should be entitled to a reasonable notice period. The last census showed that 8% of homeless persons in the State were students, which is incredible.

The Minister said that he has not been asked to regulate it by either the students union in UCD or USI so I will turn that question on its head. If they ask for some form of regulation, is it something the Minister would be prepared to comply with or give very serious consideration to?

If a request is made to me, of course, I will consider it but it would have to be based on a significant amount of evidence. We could bring in something that could as an unintended consequence undermine the supply of those types of homes completely. To give tenancy rights to a student who might only live in the home for a number of months of the year and all of a sudden open them to the rights under the Residential Tenancies Act whereby they could be there for up to six years without serving things like a notice to quit and giving the formal periods involved in that could mean that a lot of people, for example, elderly people, who have students staying in their accommodation might not even think of that because for their own safety and security, they would want the ability to evict a student if the relationship between that person and the student, who is living in that person's home, has broken down. We must be careful in respect of bringing in something that might end up undermining supply in the first place even though the measure is intended as a protection. If something is brought to me for consideration, I will consider it as Minister with responsibility for this area and consult with the Minister for Education and Skills.

Housing Data

Thomas P. Broughan


66. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons and the number of families with children, respectively, that will have been housed during 2018 to Christmas 2018 by the four Dublin local authorities; if they are in HAP, other private rented supports or forever homes; his further plans to expedite social housing delivery in the Dublin region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47334/18]

On a number of occasions, I have raised with the Minister and the Taoiseach the fact that my constituency of Dublin Bay North has the largest number of people on social housing waiting lists. In September, three families became homeless every day nationally. Week in, week out, I meet families with children who are sofa surfing and living in very overcrowded accommodation. A total of 35,000 people are living in such accommodation such as hubs, hotels and guesthouses. There are also people sleeping in their cars or trying to do so as the weather begins to turn. What kind of hope can somebody like me give those families as we approach the Christmas period, particularly people in the offer zone, that the situation will be expedited? Has the Minister any plans to drastically improve the delivery of social housing in Dublin?

The provision and allocation of social housing supports is a matter for each housing authority, in accordance with its allocation scheme. My Department provides the policy and legislative instruments along with the financial supports, schemes and resources necessary for local authorities to provide the relevant housing services in their areas.

As the Deputy will be aware, social housing delivery targets have been set and published for all local authorities for 2018. With regard to the four Dublin local authorities, the overall target for 2018 is for the delivery of some 10,423 housing supports, including 2,033 build homes, 377 acquisitions and 790 leased homes as well as 7,223 supports through HAP and RAS units. Of this target, at the end of the second quarter, a total of 3,462 housing supports had been provided to households across Dublin. This does not include households accommodated through routine re-lettings by the councils, which are not supported by funding from my Department.

HAP continues to work as a very responsive and immediate scheme delivering much-needed housing solutions for families and individuals nationwide, particularly in the Dublin region. Indeed, the number of new HAP tenancies set up across the four Dublin local authorities at the end of the second quarter of this year was 2,482.

My Department engages with all local authorities on a regular basis regarding the delivery of social housing. This includes structured quarterly meetings to review progress and in the case of the four Dublin local authorities, monthly meetings are held. I am confident that the actions, targets and resources available to all local authorities, including the four Dublin local authorities, under Rebuilding Ireland provide a strong platform for meeting our challenges in the housing sector and I am satisfied that overall delivery of the plan remains firmly on track.

The reality is totally different for families suffering in overcrowded or emergency accommodation. Like me, the Minister is a former city councillor. I am an avid reader of the housing and chief executive reports for Dublin city and Fingal. Does the Minister not find those reports very frustrating and depressing? I am looking at the Dublin city housing report for November. From 2015 to 2017, a grand total of 300 houses were delivered on the construction side with almost no Part V houses. The projections for 2018 to 2021 are fairly dismal against the 8,000 or 9,000 people on the housing list in Dublin Bay North. The Minister's emphasis is on HAP and temporary and insecure accommodation. If I look at the Fingal county manager's report for October, and I know he was with the Taoiseach yesterday, I can see that his delivery programme in social housing construction is poor. A total of 133 units have been delivered to date while total construction comes to 745. There is mention of tender stage and pre-planning approval. Is this not desperately frustrating for the thousands on the housing list? A total of 68% of all homeless people in this country are in the Dublin region. Does the Minister not have a responsibility to do something about delivery?

Of course, I have responsibility; I am the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. This is why I meet with local authorities and why we provided additional money to them for next year to provide more homes. A total of 10,000 more units will come into the stock of social housing next year because of commitments we made in the budget for next year. The largest amount of money an Irish Government has ever spent in a single year on housing will be spent next year. This is a very important commitment. Delivery is key. I was in Fingal recently and we went through delivery and what Fingal County Council is going to achieve. My Department and I recently met with the other local authorities to talk about delivery and not just for people in emergency accommodation but the wider delivery targets.

If we look at the different local authorities, we can see that in that figure of just over 10,000, Dublin City Council will deliver over 1,000 homes on the build side, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council about 180, Fingal County Council more than 400 and South Dublin County Council just under 400. That is on the build side alone. In terms of acquisitions and leasing of real homes which people will move into and have security in, these will be added to by more than 1,000.

Yes, we have to use HAP and the private rental sector because if we did not, those people would be out on the streets. Until we have more homes built, we will use HAP to support them. However, in 2020 and 2021 we will be supporting more people into new homes in the stock of social housing than we will be supporting through HAP in the private rental market. That commitment continues through Project Ireland 2040 out to 2027.

Surely the Minister is frustrated. When he meets managers, and I know he was in Fingal recently, he will be asked whether there are steps he can take in regard to the rigmarole of tendering procedures. For example, the Dublin City Council chief executive's report for November refers to two major sites in my constituency, at Oscar Traynor Road and at Belmayne. All these sites seem to be in a desperate, turgid, agonisingly slow pipeline. We have been told about pipeline after pipeline. The Minister is saying the same thing down to 2021. People cannot live in a pipeline. We need an output of houses coming on stream but it is simply not happening. Yesterday, The Irish Times said the Minister's housing policy is failing. What has happened with rents is a recipe for disaster because the Minister is not prepared to introduce a rent freeze. There is real suffering here. I know the Minister is aware of it but he needs a sense of urgency. He needs to come in here and introduce some emergency powers. There is no other way.

I thank the Deputy. Of course I am frustrated. Everyone who is involved in trying to solve this problem at the moment is frustrated. We wish we could build houses more quickly. However, there are things we have done to fast-track that process, such as the fast-track planning process, an emergency response that has seen thousands of homes get planning permission in a much shorter timeline. There are other responses, such as the new procurement framework, given we cannot get around procurement law because it is there to protect the public interest.

The Minister is not giving us any hope. He is not giving any hope to our constituents or their children.

There are 4,000 homes currently being constructed, that is, social housing homes on site. This year 20,000 new homes will be provided in the economy, which is a huge increase on last year, and this will increase again next year.

How many of those are social houses?

Yesterday one of the Deputy's colleagues proposed a Private Members' Bill that talked about declaring an emergency and having that in place for three years. Why? It is because we cannot solve this overnight and it requires time. However, for the last two years we have been changing planning and procurement processes and we have been hiring more staff. As a result of the work that has gone in over the last two years, the supply of new homes is ramping up dramatically. That said, until we have those new homes, we will put in extra protections for renters, as we will with the Bill that is being brought forward and the regulations on short-term lettings. Of course, we will increase funding and support and services for those who are most vulnerable - people sleeping rough on our streets and families in emergency accommodation. That is what we did with the budget. That is where the money goes.