Housing Data

Questions (763)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

763. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the degree to which he expects to meet the imminent demand in respect of housing following the displacement of tenants from private accommodation for a variety of reasons and the immediate needs of such tenants; if he has satisfied himself that the various local authorities can meet this need as required and at the same time deal with those that have been on the local authority waiting lists for several years in view of the lack of appropriate emergency accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10112/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

In terms of meeting the need of households on waiting lists across the country, Rebuilding Ireland set ambitious targets for social housing delivery and there is an accelerated delivery programme in place for 2018 and the years beyond. Last year, I secured an additional €500 million during Budget 2018 negotiations, to increase the social housing delivery ambition from 47,000 to 50,000 social housing homes by end 2021. Combined with the target to deliver just under 88,000 tenancies under the Housing Assistance Payment and Rental Accommodation Schemes, this means that we will meet the needs of just under 138,000 individuals and families over the lifetime of the Rebuilding Ireland plan.

It should be noted that we are making good progress, with just under 45,000 households having their social housing need met since Rebuilding Ireland was initiated. Indeed, I recently published details of the social housing delivery ambition to 2021 against the delivery achieved at end 2017 and this information can be accessed at the following web link:

http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/rebuildingplay-ireland-progress-vs-targets-2016-2021/ .

The Government is committed to addressing the use of hotels for emergency accommodation and we are working closely with the local authorities to secure the necessary alternative accommodation. The delivery of family hubs has been an important response and there are now almost 500 units of family accommodation in these hubs. These facilities offer a greater level of stability than is possible in hotels, with the capacity to provide appropriate play space, cooking and laundry facilities. My Department will fund and work with local authorities in relation to the delivery of further hubs.

During the course of 2017, a total of 1,263 families in the Dublin Region were moved on from hotel and B and B accommodation arrangements into either independent tenancies or more appropriate hub accommodation. Nationally last year, over 4,000 exits from homelessness were achieved into sustainable tenancies in local authority and Approved Housing Body housing and HAP supported accommodation. Every effort will continue to be made to achieve the maximum number of exits from homelessness this year, assisted by the recent extension to all local authorities of the Homeless HAP placefinders service, which has been a key response in Dublin and in Cork since its introduction there last year.

In relation to the rental market and the particular pressures faced by tenants, the Government has also prioritised a range of actions to ensure that existing rent predictability measures, such as the Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) and increased security of tenure, are fully respected and enforced.

With well over half of all tenancies now covered by RPZs, we are making sure that all landlords comply with the 4% maximum annual rent increases and we are bringing forward legislation to give the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) increased enforcement powers to act where these new rules are not being applied. This legislation will also make it an offence to break the RPZ rules. In addition, the RTB published a guidance note in late November on the “substantial change” exemption in RPZ areas which will make it clearer for landlords and tenants.

Another key policy that will help to deliver more new properties for rent, and more affordable rental properties, is the finalisation of new apartment planning and design guidelines (which issued for consultation in December 2017), which will facilitate more cost-effective and flexible design to meet different rental market segments. The new guidelines also facilitate the development of specific build-to-rent developments as well as shared accommodation rental models, which are suited to city centre development at scale and which will help to boost the supply of urban core rental accommodation at more affordable levels, in line with the National Planning Framework principle of delivering compact city centre living as opposed to continued outward sprawl.

Housing Loans

Question No. 765 answered with Question No. 759.

Questions (764, 771)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

764. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will examine the need to install a robust local authority housing loan system similar to that available in the 1980s with the objective of ensuring that families that do not qualify for local authority housing on income grounds can apply for a loan to buy or construct their own houses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10113/18]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

771. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the income qualification guidelines, upper and lower limits, for qualification for a housing loan from the local authority; if applicants need to be on the local authority housing list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10120/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 764 and 771 together.

Following a review of the two existing local authority home loan schemes, the House Purchase Loan and the Home Choice Loan, I have introduced, from 1 February 2018, a new loan offering, known as the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan. The new loan will enable credit worthy first time buyers to access sustainable mortgage lending to purchase new or second-hand properties in a suitable price range. The low rate of fixed interest associated with the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan provides first time buyers with access to mortgage finance that they may not otherwise be able to afford at a higher interest rate.

Single applicants for the loan must not be earning greater than €50,000 gross per annum. The combined income of joint applicants must not be greater than €75,000 per annum. There are no set minimum income limits; however, applicants do need to have sufficient borrowing and repayment capacity and must be capable of repaying the mortgage in accordance with the statutory credit policy underpinning the loan. These income limits are unchanged from the previous local authority loan offerings.

Full details of the loan's eligibility criteria and other information is available from the dedicated Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan website: http://rebuildingirelandhomeloan.ie/ . Any person who meets the eligibility criteria may apply for a loan regardless of whether or not they are on the local authority housing list or qualified for social housing support.

Question No. 765 answered with Question No. 759.

Local Authority Housing

Question No. 767 answered with Question No. 757.

Questions (766)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

766. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if local authorities are free to provide direct build local authority houses for rural dwellers that can provide a site through family or other means; his plans to ensure that this means of addressing the housing lists at local level can be encouraged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10115/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

It is a matter for each local authority to determine the nature, location and relative priority of individual social housing projects for their areas. In submitting proposals for funding to my Department in respect of new social housing projects, local authorities may include proposals for single social houses in rural areas where they have identified and prioritised such need and the issue of site availability is one for the local authority.

Local authorities now have substantial pipelines of new social construction housing projects, ranging from larger to smaller scale developments, details of which have been published and are available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link:

http://rebuildingireland.ie/install/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Q3-2017-Construction-Status-Report.pdf .

I am keen that they advance all of these as soon as possible and have assured them that funding is available to fully support their efforts in this regard.

Question No. 767 answered with Question No. 757.

Local Authority Housing

Questions (768, 769)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

768. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the extent to which construction companies have been approached with a view to providing direct build local authority houses in counties Kildare, Wicklow and Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10117/18]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

769. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a cost benefit analysis has been carried out on a proposal to encourage construction companies to build local authority houses on county council lands in counties Kildare, Wicklow and Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10118/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 768 and 769 together.

The delivery of social housing in each local authority area is a matter in the first instance for the local authorities themselves. However, I would encourage all local authorities, including those in Kildare, Wicklow and Meath, to use all available approaches to expedite delivery of new social homes.

This can include local authority managed construction projects, those advanced with approved housing bodies, Part V agreements with developers, turnkey construction in partnership with developers and any other suitable arrangements with developers that deliver good quality and early social housing.

I am not aware of any formal cost benefit analysis on the possible direct provision of social housing by developers. However, all capital-funded new social housing construction projects, irrespective of the nature of the development, are subject to the Capital Works Management Framework and the Public Spending Code. Therefore, I am satisfied that appropriate value for money scrutiny is in place to assess all delivery proposals.

Following from the review I undertook of Rebuilding Ireland last September, my Department established a new delivery team to work with Minister of State English and with all local authorities and approved housing bodies in exploring all options for early social housing delivery.

Local Authority Housing Data

Question No. 771 answered with Question No. 764.

Questions (770)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

770. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of housing applicants on Kildare County Council's approved housing list; if those on the list for ten years are being accommodated; the extent to which those that have recently become homeless are likely to be accommodated in parallel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10119/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Details on the number of households qualified for social housing support in each housing authority area are provided in the statutory summary of social housing assessments, SSHA. The most recent SSHA carried out in 2017, details the number of households on all local authority waiting lists as at 28 June 2017.

The results of the SSHA are available on my Department’s website and include breakdowns by each local authority across a range of categories. The 2017 report also includes the results of the 2016 summary for comparative purpose. Full details in relation to the 2017 assessment are available on my Department's website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/sha_summary_2017.pdf .

The SSHA is now being carried out an annual basis. I expect the results of the 2018 summary to be available for publication later in the year.

Local authorities are by law, Section 63(1) of the Local Government Act 2001, independent in the performance of their functions. This means that the provision of social housing support is entirely a matter for the local authority concerned in accordance with its allocation scheme. It is the local authority which assesses housing applicants, taking into account factors such as the condition and affordability of existing accommodation, medical and compassionate grounds, etc. The authority then prioritises the needs of approved applicants in accordance with its allocation scheme. Housing authorities may prioritise certain classes of households for allocation on the basis of severity of need as they see fit.

Oversight and management of the lists of qualified households awaiting accommodation, including the allocation and transfer of tenancies, is a matter for the relevant housing authority in accordance with Sections 20 and 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and associated social housing assessment and social housing allocation regulations.

Question No. 771 answered with Question No. 764.

Housing Assistance Payment

Questions (772)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

772. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to address the inadequacies regarding the new housing assistance payment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10128/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The housing assistance payment, HAP, provides fast, flexible housing support to households in an area of their choice. Individuals with a housing need who in the past were reluctant to avail of full time work as they would lose their rent supplement support, can now move to HAP, avail of full-time work and retain their housing support, with an adjustment in their differential rent.

HAP is available to all eligible households in all local authority areas across the State. HAP has been rolled out on a statutory phased basis since September 2014 with seven local authorities delivering the scheme initially, 11 more authorities added in 2015, ten added in 2016 and the final three Dublin authorities providing HAP from 1 March 2017. The phased nature of the HAP roll-out has allowed for significant learning in the operation of the scheme. In this way, new HAP authorities have benefited from the experience of those authorities where the scheme has been previously operational. On average in 2017, 350 additional tenancies were being supported by HAP each week, with over 33,000 households currently having their housing needs met under the scheme, and some 20,000 separate landlords and agents currently in receipt of monthly HAP payments.

As HAP is a social housing support and consequently households are not eligible to remain on the main housing waiting list, Ministerial directions have issued to ensure that, should they so choose, HAP recipients can avail of a move to other forms of social housing support through a transfer list. With the completion of the HAP roll-out and the ending of the scheme’s pilot phase, a Ministerial Direction was issued instructing local authorities to continue to offer HAP tenants access to other forms of social housing through the transfer list. To date, more than 800 HAP recipients have transferred to other forms of social housing support this way.

Since April 2017, following the national roll out of the scheme, in cases where a tenant currently on a local authority waiting list wishes to access rented accommodation with HAP support in another local authority area, such requests can now be facilitated under inter-authority movement. In order to maintain the equitable treatment of all housing applicants, inter-authority movement for HAP applicants is based on the current social housing eligibility income bands, i.e. movement will only be facilitated across local authorities with income bands that are equal or higher; or where shared areas of choice are already operated.

A new HAP website, www.hap.ie , was launched in Q1 2017 and provides prospective HAP tenants and landlords with the information that they need to better understand how HAP works.

In relation to specific HAP supports available to homeless households, the homeless HAP place finder service operating in the Dublin local authorities, and in Cork City Council, is a targeted support for homeless households who are finding it difficult to secure HAP tenancies. The place finder service has been successfully utilised by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, DRHE, across the Dublin local authorities since February 2015, with more than 2,000 households currently being supported by the Homeless HAP scheme. A similar service began operating in Cork City in 2017. In order to further assist homeless households in exiting emergency accommodation the homeless HAP place finder service, with effect from 19 January 2018, can now be made available in each of the 31 local authority areas. All local authorities are now being provided with the options to pay deposits and advance rental payments for any households in emergency homeless accommodation, in order to secure accommodation via the HAP Scheme.

I continue to keep the operation of HAP under review but I am currently satisfied with how the scheme is operating and I consider it to be a key vehicle for meeting housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme committed to under Rebuilding Ireland.

Social and Affordable Housing

Questions Nos. 774 and 775 answered with Question No. 760.

Questions (773)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

773. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the progress being made on reducing social housing waiting lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10129/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

The implementation of the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan is well underway and making significant progress. This was evident in the Social Housing Output indicative figures published last month, showing that nearly 26,000 households had their social housing need met in 2017; this was building on the equivalent figure of 19,000 in 2016.

The results of the statutory summary of social housing assessments carried out in 2017 show that 85,799 households were assessed as being qualified for and in need of social housing support as of 28 June 2017. This represents a decrease of 5,801 households, or 6.3%, on the previous assessment, completed just over nine months previously in September 2016.

However, there will be no let up in the Government's focus on this issue and the resources provided through Rebuilding Ireland are allowing us to respond in a significant manner. Over €1.4 billion was provided for investment in housing in 2017 and this is being increased significantly to €1.9 billion this year.

This investment will yield substantial delivery activity and ensure that we make further significant progress towards meeting the overall target of delivering 50,000 social homes in the period to 2021, through new build, refurbishment, acquisitions and leasing. That number is alongside an accelerated roll-out of the housing assistance payment scheme, meeting the needs of some 80,000 households.

My Department now publishes social housing construction status reports on a quarterly basis. These reports provide information on the construction programme underway in each local authority area. The last published report sets out the position at the end of quarter 3 of 2017 when there were over 3,600 new social homes on site and under construction and a further 2,000 new homes with approval to appoint contractors and move onto the construction phase. That report is available on the Rebuilding Ireland website at the following link:

http://rebuildingireland.ie/install/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Q3-2017-Construction-Status-Report.pdf .

I am confident that the actions, targets and resources available under Rebuilding Ireland provide a strong platform for meeting our challenges in the housing sector and I am satisfied that delivery of the plan remains firmly on track.

Questions Nos. 774 and 775 answered with Question No. 760.