Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (363)

Michael Healy-Rae


363. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in view of the fact that more than 1,300 housing applicants qualified for housing in the Killarney town area his proposals to provide urgently needed funding to Killarney Town Council and Kerry County Council to address this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15077/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Government's 2011 Housing Policy Statement clearly outlines that the priority for Government is to meet the most acute needs of households applying for social housing support. Government is responding to these needs through a variety of mechanisms and more flexible funding models. To maximise the social housing gain from constrained resources, the social housing leasing initiative and the Rental Accommodation Scheme each play their part and I am fully committed to capturing social housing gain from private developments. Alongside expanding the role of the Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) in terms of acquisitions and construction, other mechanisms will include options to purchase within the leasing model and build to lease.

In 2014, funding for housing, at over €587 million, is effectively maintained at 2013 levels. This includes a €50 million capital stimulus to support construction and related programmes, 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. I expect the final output across all social housing programmes for 2014 to be in the region of 5,000 new housing units.

Last month I announced the approval of some 56 social housing construction projects with an overall value of some €68 million under the Local Authority housing construction programme for 2014-2015. This new construction programme will deliver 449 new units of accommodation for people on the housing waiting list. Projects were selected for approval on the basis of the proposals submitted to my Department by the local authorities, the relative priority afforded to each of these projects and the overall level of housing need locally. In the case of Kerry County Council, some €1.8 million was approved in respect of a proposal submitted by the Council for the construction of 13 dwellings, 8 of which are in Park, Killarney.

On Budget Day 2014, I announced details of a new measure with funding of €15 million which will be invested in bringing some 400 vacant and boarded-up local authority houses back into productive use. My Department is currently assessing the proposals recently received from local authorities and I will announce details of the funding allocations as soon as possible.

I also intend to announce details very shortly of the allocations to local authorities under my Department's Capital Assistance Scheme for the construction and acquisition of housing for persons with specific categories of need over the 2014-2015 period. Some €35 million is being set aside for this programme which is intended to deliver in the region of 230 new homes.

I remain committed to continuing to develop innovative and sustainable approaches to the provision of social housing.

Question No. 364 answered with Question No. 357.