Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Questions (566, 567, 575)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

566. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the type of cost rental model he is examining; if there are pilot projects; if so, when the results of same will be reviewed and published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51518/18]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

567. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if rent caps will be placed on cost rental models being examined by his Department and local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51519/18]

View answer

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

575. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the interest rate and maturity of a loan (details supplied) secured for the cost rental housing project at a location in Dublin 8; and if the loan will be for the construction of just the cost rental units or all units, that is, social rental and cost rental in the development. [51573/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 566, 567 and 575 together.

Acknowledging that renters in Dublin and other urban centres are currently facing significant access and affordability challenges, the Government is committed to the introduction of a not-for-profit, cost rental sector in Ireland. Together with delivering more affordable and predictable rents, cost rental will make a sustainable impact on national competitiveness and the attractiveness of our main urban centres as places to live and work. 

As laid out in the National Planning Framework, the Government is planning for an expected population increase of almost one million people by 2040. This growth will necessitate the delivery of some 500,000 new homes over the next 20 years. The State will be proactive in contributing to the delivery of the housing that we need by 2040 and cost rental will need to form a significant part of Ireland's housing system in the future.

Under the cost rental model, minimising retained earnings, land and other delivery costs, while securing very competitive European Investment Bank (EIB) financing, means that affordable rents can be achieved. The final rents, for any given project, will be set after all associated costs are determined, following on from the competitive construction and management tender processes. Cost rental homes will be targeted at households earning low to moderate incomes up to a maximum of €50,000 for single applicants and €75,000 for dual applicants.

Cost rental is new to Ireland and in order to drive delivery, a number of important early mover projects are being advanced, delivering important lessons in terms of cost rental in an Irish setting. There are two pilot cost rental schemes being advanced: one at Enniskerry Road, in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, and one at Emmet Road in Inchicore. It is expected that 50 cost rental units and 105 social homes will be made available on the Enniskerry Road site. 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 City Council under cost rental arrangements. 

The tenders are currently being assessed for the Enniskerry Road Project, and it is anticipated that construction will commence in the first quarter of 2019. With regard to the Emmet Road site, while this project is at an earlier stage of development, 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 a special Consultative Forum specifically for this project.

Cost rental will initially be managed on an administrative basis, and my Department is preparing a draft administrative cost rental framework in collaboration with the Housing Agency and the local authorities involved in the pilot projects. The invaluable learning from these pathfinder projects will inform further cost rental projects to be rolled out across other suitable sites. My Department is also working with the European Investment Bank to leverage its advisory and research capacity so that broader international lessons on the operation of cost rental can inform Ireland's approach.

With regard to the funding and financing arrangements, I have made it clear that direct Exchequer funding will be provided for any social housing element of these mixed-tenure developments. Indeed, part of the Emmet Road site has been identified as a “Housing with Support” demonstrator model under Rebuilding Ireland and will deliver 52 homes, due for completion in 2020. This element of the Emmet Road project has been approved for funding of circa €15 million under my Department’s Capital Assistance Scheme, with a contribution of €450,000 from the HSE/Department of Health towards additional communal facilities for the residents.

Furthermore, the Government has made €310m available to local authorities to fund facilitating infrastructure to deliver affordable housing from its sites. The funding is available for cost rental projects and will contribute to reducing costs even further.  The terms of any loan funding arrangements put in place for individual projects will be determined on a case by case basis.

My Department is also engaging with the National Development Finance Agency and the new Land Development Agency to examine the optimum funding and delivery options to support cost rental delivery at scale.