Social and Affordable Housing

Questions (509, 519)

Bríd Smith

Question:

509. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the circumstances that gave rise to the delays in construction of social houses at a company (details supplied); the way in which tenders were awarded to a firm that had significant debt; if a vulture fund is involved, the person or body from which that fund acquired the original debt; and the steps being taken to remedy the situation. [40622/18]

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Bríd Smith

Question:

519. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the circumstances that gave rise to the delay in finishing social housing projects connected with a company (details supplied); his plans to finish these units; and if a vulture fund is involved in the debt problems at the construction firm. [40621/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 509 and 519 together.

A number of social housing projects with the same main contractor have been impacted when the contractor ceased operation on site. I understand that since then, an interim examiner has been appointed in the case of the contractor concerned.

It is the local authorities and approved housing bodies who are the contracting parties in the cases of the social housing projects and they are therefore dealing directly with the issues arising from the main contractor discontinuing construction work on these sites and are taking the appropriate steps to re-tender the projects, where necessary, and have them completed as soon as possible.

Precautionary measures are always taken to safeguard public construction projects, including assessing a tenderer's financial and economic standing as part of procurement. Thereafter, public contracts should be actively and effectively managed and monitored by contracting authorities. Notwithstanding these steps, it can still happen that a contractor can stop operating giving rise to an unavoidable element of delay. This has happened before with social housing projects and the local authorities and housing associations have undertaken the appropriate steps that are needed in such situations and moved to complete the projects. I can confirm that funding support from my Department continues to be available for all the social housing projects impacted in this case, and it is the intention of the local authorities and approved housing bodies, with the support of my Department, to secure the full completion of the housing as soon as possible.

As Minister, I have no role in the commercial operations or decisions of the private company concerned and it would not be appropriate for me to comment on this aspect.

Land Development Agency

Questions (510)

Robert Troy

Question:

510. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the ownership of Columb Barracks will transfer in its entirety to the Land Development Agency or only the land planned for housing development in view of the recent announcement concerning Columb Barracks; his plans for all buildings on this site; and the level of engagement he has had with the community groups that are tenants. [40757/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The recently established Land Development Agency will act as a new commercial State body to actively manage the development of public land in a way that will make a major contribution to tackling the root causes of our current housing issues, including bringing about major new opportunities for additional social and affordable housing on public lands.

The Agency has a potentially very significant and wider role to play in not only addressing the pressures in the housing sector in the short to medium term but in the longer-term to enable the urban development objectives of the national planning framework to be realised.

The agency has access to an initial tranche of eight sites with significant potential to add a further pipeline of public sites that have near term delivery potential for 3,000 new homes and an additional potential for 7,000 new homes. Columb Barracks is one of the initial eight sites identified with potential to deliver a minimum of 250 homes.

I understand that discussions are in train between the agency and the Department of Defence with a view to agreeing a memorandum of understanding in relation to Columb Barracks, and that a feasibility study of the site will be undertaken by the agency. It is therefore premature to anticipate the detail of the proposals that may emerge.

Wind Energy Guidelines

Questions (511)

Dara Calleary

Question:

511. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the new national guidelines for wind energy will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41077/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 wind energy development guidelines. As part of the overall review, a strategic environmental assessment, SEA, is being undertaken on the revised guidelines before they come into effect, in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, otherwise known as the SEA Directive.

SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes which act as frameworks for development consent, prior to their final adoption, with public consultation as part of that process. Following a tendering process, my Department appointed SEA experts in December 2017 to assist in this regard. It is expected that a public consultation on the revised draft guidelines, together with the comprehensive environmental report under the SEA process, will be commenced in the coming weeks, with the aim of issuing the finalised guidelines, following detailed analysis and consideration of the submissions and views received during the consultation phase, in early 2019.

When finalised, the revised Guidelines will be issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. Planning authorities and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála must have regard to guidelines issued under section 28 in the performance of their functions generally under the planning Acts. In the meantime, the current 2006 wind energy development guidelines remain in force.

Regeneration Projects

Questions (512)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

512. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if it is his policy that complex regeneration projects will ensure that 60% of the development on public owned land will be for private sale at market prices; his views on the regeneration project in Inchicore, Dublin 8; if the project falls into the category of complex regeneration projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40583/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

To support the work of the newly established Land Development Agency, LDA, the Government has agreed new policies requiring that a minimum of 30% of public lands coming forward for redevelopment and/or disposal are to be reserved for affordable housing purposes, in addition to the statutory requirement for 10% social housing under the existing Part V provisions. The balance of 60% of the housing output of such projects will typically be for market housing.

These new policies will ensure more social housing delivery, more affordable housing delivery and more housing supply in general which is crucial in easing the prices and rents associated with new housing, while at the same time securing the delivery of sustainable and mixed tenure communities in a balanced manner across the various social, affordable and market housing elements of the overall housing sector, all of which require enhanced supply.

As regards the regeneration project in Emmet Road, Inchicore, Dublin 8, this is separate from the projects being advanced by the LDA and is one of three significant sites being brought forward by Dublin City Council under its housing land initiative, HLI, the aim of which is to ensure the delivery of mixed-tenure homes in the Dublin City Council functional area. All three sites under the HLI are identified as strategic development and regeneration areas within the Dublin city development plan 2016-2022, and the plans for the development of the Emmet Road site predate the establishment of the Land Development Agency.

Mixed-tenure developments are an important policy objective of Rebuilding Ireland and uphold the principle of sustainable mixed communities, where housing needs are not subject to rigid segregation based on income levels. They also provide an opportunity to see major sites developed more quickly, and integrated into existing communities and areas. The Council has agreed the methodology for community consultation, as set out in the feasibility study presented through a community consultative forum.

While the final tenure mix on the Emmet Road site will be decided by Dublin City Council and informed by the detailed site development process, it will likely include 140 social housing homes, with the remaining 330 homes predominantly provided by the Council under cost rental arrangements. Under the cost rental model, minimising profit, land costs and other costs and securing very competitive EIB financing mean that much more affordable rents can be achieved than can be delivered through market arrangements.

Dublin City Council has appointed a dedicated project manager and a project team to drive the project forward. In addition to pre-existing consultative arrangements, the council is also facilitating the establishment of a special Inchicore regeneration consultative forum specifically for this project.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Questions (513)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

513. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of households that were dropped from the housing list due to exceeding the income limits to qualify for social housing in the period pertaining to the statistics (details supplied); his plans to raise the qualifying income limit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40587/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The Summary of Social Housing Assessment, SSHA, process requires all housing authorities to review those households who are on their housing list but who are not currently in receipt of housing support. This is to ensure that the details of the applicant households are up to date and accurate and that they remain eligible for, and in need of, social housing support in accordance with the criteria set down in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and associated social housing assessment regulations. As part of this assessment, all local authorities wrote to relevant households, including those in transitional and shared or emergency accommodation, if relevant, informing them of the assessment process and seeking updated information where necessary.

The net income eligibility limits for access to social housing support are set out in the following table:

Single Person household

2 adults no children

Oneadult one child

Oneadult two children

Two adults 1 child

Two adults 2 children

Two adults 3 children

Two adults plus 4 or more children

Three adults plus 4 or more children

Band 1 €35,000

€35,000

€36,750

€35,875

€36,750

€37,625

€38,500

€39,375

€40,250

€42,000

Band 2 €30,000

€30,000

€31,500

€30,750

€31,500

€32,250

€33,000

€33,750

€34,500

€36,000

Band 3 €25,000

€25,000

€26,250

€25,625

€26,250

€26,875

€27,500

€28,125

€28,750

€30,000

On review, households found to exceed the limits on income eligibility grounds were removed from the list. Data supplied separately by the Housing Agency show that as part of the 2018 SSHA process 971 households were removed on income eligibility grounds. The oversight and management of these lists is a matter for the relevant housing authority in accordance with the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and associated regulations.

As part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of income eligibility for social housing supports is underway. The Housing Agency is carrying out the detailed statistical work which will underpin this review on behalf of my Department. The review will obviously have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered.

Housing Assistance Payment

Questions (514, 515)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

514. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if HAP and similar rental assistance payments for 2018 and for 2019 will be estimated in terms of State spending; his policy in terms of maximum expenditure in these categories; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40591/18]

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Willie O'Dea

Question:

515. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether HAP and similar payments provide no return for the State in that they are not adding to supply that is to either the national housing stock or State owned housing stock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40593/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 514 and 515 together.

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 and avail of full-time work and retain their housing support, with an adjustment in their differential rent.

Budget 2018 increased the Exchequer funding for the HAP scheme by €149m to €301 million. This will allow for the continued support of existing HAP households and also enable the additional 17,000 households targeted under Rebuilding Ireland to be supported by HAP in 2018. A further €121m for HAP has been announced under Budget 2019. This will provide for the continued support of existing HAP households and also enable the additional 16,760 households targeted under Rebuilding Ireland to be supported by HAP in 2019, as well as supporting the roll-out of the HAP Place Finder Support Service across the country.

The Homeless HAP Place Finder Service 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 3,000 households being supported by the Homeless HAP scheme at end Q2 2018.

The Homeless HAP Place Finder Service is now available to each of the 31 local authorities, 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.

A critical focus of Rebuilding Ireland is to intensify the provision of long term local authority and Approved Housing Body (AHB) stock, particularly to accelerate new build activity. However, there is an urgent and immediate need to accommodate households, which cannot be met solely from owned stock. There were 71,858 households on local authority waiting lists as at 11 June 2018. The combination of targeted delivery under Rebuilding Ireland of 50,000 social housing homes under Build, Acquisition and Leasing schemes and 87,000 HAP and RAS supports, which will be funded by the Government out to 2021, offers both long term and flexible options to these individuals and families.

We are delivering on and in fact exceeding on both the 50,000 and the 87,000 targets. The targets under Rebuilding Ireland were carefully set against the reality of deliverables and by 2021 we will be housing more people through new social housing homes than through HAP.

At the end of Quarter 2 2018, over 37,750 tenancies were being supported by the HAP scheme, including over 9,000 additional households in 2018. 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 current housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme set out in Rebuilding Ireland.

European Court of Human Rights Rulings

Questions (516)

Jack Chambers

Question:

516. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 530 of 25 September 2018, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this timeline is different to that stated in correspondence to a person (details supplied) in September 2018; the correct timeline of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40595/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I refer to the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 530 of 25 September 2018.

As indicated in my previous reply, the working group referred to has concluded its deliberations and, taking account of the group's analysis and recommended outcome, my Department has been engaging with the European Commission on the matter with a view to issuing to planning authorities, by the end of this year, revisions to the 2005 rural housing guidelines that take account of the relevant ECJ judgment. It may be possible to finalise the guidelines earlier than that, subject to the completion of outstanding work.

Housing Adaptation Grant Eligibility

Questions (517)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

517. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason household income limits apply in respect of the disabled person's grant in cases in which the disabled person is an adult and has no income other than disability allowance in view of the fact that it would be cheaper for the State to adapt the family home rather than house them separately as is the case. [40608/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The application of a household means test in relation to the housing adaptation grants for older people and people with a disability is designed to achieve fairness and value for money, while focusing funding on those with greatest needs.

For the purposes of the housing adaptation grant for people with a disability, household income is calculated as the annual gross income of the registered property owner together with all household members over 18, or over 23 if in full-time education, in the previous tax year. Certain income is not taken into account, or is disregarded, in calculating household income, including €5,000 for each member of the household up to 18 years, family income supplement, domiciliary care allowance and carer's benefit or carer's allowance, if paid in respect of the person to whom the grant application relates.

The detailed administration of the grants, including the assessment, approval and payment of individual grants to applicants, is the responsibility of the relevant local authority. Local authorities will endeavour to provide the appropriate solution in each situation.

Vacant Properties Data

Question No. 519 answered with Question No. 509.

Questions (518, 528)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

518. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of vacant properties in the ownership of Tipperary County Council by district; the length of time the houses are vacant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40615/18]

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Tony McLoughlin

Question:

528. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of vacant council houses in counties Mayo and Sligo on 20 September 2018; the number in towns and villages, respectively in the county; the details of rural council houses vacant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40768/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 518 and 528 together.

My Department does not keep data on the number of vacant or void local authority houses at a particular point in time. However, statistics in relation to social housing are compiled by the National Oversight and Audit Commission, NOAC, in its annual reports on Performance Indicators in Local Authorities. These statistics are set out by local authority and include the percentage of total local authority dwellings that were vacant, with the most recent report relating to 2017. This report is available on the NOAC website at the following link: http://noac.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NOAC-Performance-Indicators-Report-2017.pdf.

Question No. 519 answered with Question No. 509.

Emergency Accommodation Data

Questions (520)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

520. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of beds in homeless accommodation; if they are supported temporary accommodation, temporary emergency accommodation or other available specifically for young persons leaving care in each of the years 2015 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40663/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of homeless services, including accommodation, rests with individual housing authorities. The matter raised by the Deputy is an operational issue in the day-to-day delivery of services and is a matter for the relevant housing authorities.

Responsibility for young people leaving care falls under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

Emergency Accommodation Data

Questions (521)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

521. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of beds in homeless accommodation; if they are supported temporary accommodation, temporary emergency accommodation or other available specifically for persons leaving prison in each of the years 2015 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40665/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of homeless services, including accommodation, rests with individual housing authorities. The matter raised by the Deputy is an operational issue in the day-to-day delivery of services and is a matter for the relevant housing authorities.

The policy in relation to discharges from prison is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality.

Emergency Accommodation Data

Questions (522)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

522. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of beds in homeless accommodation; if they are supported temporary accommodation, temporary emergency accommodation or other available specifically for homeless persons leaving hospital in each of the years 2015 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40666/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of homeless services, including accommodation, rests with individual housing authorities. The matter raised by the Deputy is an operational issue in the day-to-day delivery of services and is a matter for the relevant housing authorities.

Policy in relation to hospital discharges is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Health.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Questions (523, 524)

Shane Cassells

Question:

523. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of one-off rural social houses built in each local authority area in each of the years 2007 to 2017. [40713/18]

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Shane Cassells

Question:

524. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the estimated number of one-off rural social houses which will be built in each local authority area in 2018. [40714/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 523 and 524 together.

Data on the number of social homes delivered by local authorities is published on my Department's website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/social-housing/social-and-affordble/overall-social-housing-provision. This data includes the number of properties constructed, purchased and leased by all local authorities in previous years.

In addition, my Department also publishes quarterly information on the pipeline of new social housing construction that is currently in place, with the report covering the period to end Quarter 2 of 2018 being available at the following link: http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/minister-murphy-publishes-latest-social-housing-construction-report/. This sets out the size and location of the social housing construction projects in development under Rebuilding Ireland across all local authority areas.

These information sources do not separately identify those developments that are single rural dwellings. It is the local authorities that are responsible for the identification of the social housing need in their areas and for the development of appropriate responses to meet the need identified. There is no requirement for local authorities to deliver a precise number of single rural dwellings, as it is a matter for them to prioritise projects to meet their overall housing need.

I am pleased to see the progress being made on new social housing projects, as evident in the latest quarterly social housing construction report, building on what has been already delivered, but I am keen that all local authorities further accelerate their programmes and I have assured them that the necessary funding is available to support their work in this regard.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Questions (525)

Shane Cassells

Question:

525. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if local authorities will be funded to build social housing for those on the housing waiting list that can provide a site from a family member or friend to build on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40715/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Local authorities are funded to deliver social housing in a number of ways but there is no requirement for local authorities to deliver social houses on sites provided by an applicant approved for social housing support, as it is a matter for them to select and prioritise projects to meet their overall housing need. It is the local authorities that are responsible for the identification of the social housing need in their areas and for the development of appropriate responses to meet the need identified.

Local authorities have a number of options available to them in meeting social housing needs, and these include the provision of low cost sites to persons qualified for social housing support on which they would build their own homes. Another option which could be utilised by a local authority, where it considers it appropriate, is the transfer of a site from a person qualified for social housing to the local authority, and the building of a social house on the site by the local authority, to be tenanted by the person who transferred the site.

Environmental Impact Assessments

Questions (526)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

526. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a ministerial order under section 160 that an environmental impact assessment which would be mandatory under the codified EIA Directive 2011/92/EU is not required in view of the European Court of Justice judgment in Case C-215/06 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40737/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Section 160 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), relating to unauthorised development, does not provide for a ministerial order in relation to environmental impact assessment. Section 30 of the Act specifically precludes the Minister from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.

Water Pollution

Question No. 528 answered with Question No. 518.

Questions (527)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

527. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to an instance of water contamination below ground level in an area (details supplied); if the mater has been investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40752/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels. While local authorities have a general responsibility for the monitoring, management and improvement of water quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, is the supervisory authority for public water supplies. The EPA is also the statutory body for investigating complaints of pollution and for the enforcement, both directly and through oversight of local authorities, of environmental legislation in Ireland.

The procedures to be followed where there is non-compliance with the parametric values for drinking water, and the roles of the water supplier, the EPA and the Health Services Executive, HSE, are set out in the European Union (Drinking Water) Regulations 2014, as amended, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas library.

While my attention has not been drawn to this reported instance of water contamination, neither I nor my Department have any direct role in monitoring or supervising the delivery of water services or any pollution incidents arising therefrom.

Question No. 528 answered with Question No. 518.