Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Questions (40)

Thomas P. Broughan


40. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his response to the ongoing housing crisis, particularly in Dublin; and if he will be undertaking to recommence investment in building new housing units across the country to address the crisis. [39146/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Government's housing policy statement, published in June 2011, clearly identifies that the priority for Government will be to meet the most acute needs of households applying for social housing support. I am determined to ensure that the social housing programme optimises the delivery of social housing and the return for the resources invested. To achieve this, it is essential that we continue to tailor the use of available Exchequer supports to prevailing conditions and explore the full range of solutions to address housing needs. The financial parameters within which we continue to operate rule out a return to large capital funded construction programmes. The Government is committed to responding more quickly and on a larger scale to social housing support needs through a variety of mechanisms, including through increased provision of social housing.

In July 2012 I announced details of a three-year funding programme of €100 million to deliver some 800 new units of voluntary and local authority owned social housing. I am monitoring expenditure under my Department's housing programme for 2013, together with the level of contractual commitments extending into 2014, with a view to a decision later this year on approving some limited new construction and house purchases over the period to end 2014. In addition to the €525.8m in housing programme expenditure provided for in my Department's Estimate for 2014, Budget 2014 provides a further €50 million to fund infrastructural investment primarily in the housing area, including €30 million to recommence a State house building programme; €10 million for an unfinished housing estate resolution project; and €10 million for housing adaptation grants. When this is taken into account, funding for housing for next year is effectively maintained at 2013 levels.

Delivery of social housing is significantly facilitated through more flexible funding models such as the Rental Accommodation Scheme and leasing, but the Government continues to be committed to other funding mechanisms that will increase the supply of permanent new social housing. Such mechanisms include options to purchase, build to lease and the sourcing of loan finance by approved housing bodies for construction and acquisition. In addition, my Department and the Housing Agency are also engaged with NAMA to ensure continued delivery of housing units for social purposes. Approved Housing Bodies will also play a key role in 2014 in the delivery of social housing and in particular in its capacity to attract external financial investment.

In spite of the current challenging circumstances, I expect the final output across all social housing programmes for 2013 to be in the region of 5,000 new housing units, and it is provisionally estimated that in the region of 5,000 units will be provided for social housing in 2014.

Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation and related services for homeless persons rests with the housing authorities. Work continues between central and local government and the voluntary sector to ensure that the considerable monies spent on services for the homeless are effectively and appropriately targeted.