I propose to take Questions Nos. 707 and 717 together.
Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 provides a new statutory basis for the delivery of affordable housing for purchase. The new affordable purchase scheme is based on local authorities providing, directly or indirectly, below market price housing.
The main tenets of the Scheme are as follows:
- It will be targeted towards low- to middle-income first-time buyer households;
- Discounts of up to 40% of the market price of the property will be provided;
- The local authority will place a charge against the property equal to the discount provided;
- The charge is repayable and the proceeds will be placed into a centralised affordable housing fund giving the scheme long-term sustainability;
- The affordable dwellings fund will be administered by the Housing Finance Agency.
In terms of the priority areas for operation of the scheme, this will be influenced by the economic assessments which local authorities were asked to carry out in relation to the affordability issues in their areas.
The Act itself contains significant detail on the new arrangements, reducing the extent to which regulations are required. Insofar as regulations are necessary, the most immediate requirement is for regulations dealing with the making of schemes of priority by local authorities. I will be signing regulations which will deal with that issue shortly, which will allow local authorities to finalise their schemes of priorities by June 2019, as required. Further regulations and detailed guidance will issue to local authorities thereafter.
The affordable housing scheme will be open to applications according as projects are delivered. In that regard, significant delivery is to be achieved through the €310 million Serviced Site Fund (SSF), under which at least 6,200 affordable homes are to be supported over the next three years. An initial 10 projects have been approved for €43m of funding under the first call for proposals under the SSF. A second call will issue shortly and the first homes are expected to be delivered in 2020.
In addition, some 2,350 affordable homes will be delivered on mainly publicly owned lands being supported through the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF), while 5,600 further homes will benefit from a LIHAF-related cost reduction. The work of the Land Development Agency (LDA) will also be of crucial importance in terms of delivering more affordable housing; the initial portfolio of sites that the LDA has access to will have the potential, over the short to medium term, to deliver 3,000 affordable homes in line with the Government policy of achieving 30% affordable housing on State lands generally.
In parallel with this, the Dublin local authorities continue to progress a number of other significant housing projects on publicly owned lands, including the redevelopment of O'Devaney Gardens, St. Michael's Estate and a site at Oscar Traynor Road in Dublin city, yielding over 550 affordable homes. The timing of delivery under these projects is contingent on the completion of planning and procurement in the first instance, but the local authorities are working to achieve delivery as quickly as possible.