Following a review of Rebuilding Ireland at the end of 2017, there has been a renewed emphasis on increasing the number of social housing units through build programmes.
Reflecting this renewed emphasis, an overall housing capital budget of €1.4bn was provided in Budget 2019 representing a 24% increase over the 2018 allocation. This will help deliver 10,000 new social housing homes in 2019 through a range of build and acquisition programmes.
As Rebuilding Ireland progresses, each year will see the housing needs of more households met through direct build and less through the Housing Assistance Payment, with published targets for HAP decreasing from a peak of 17,000 additional units in 2018 to 10,000 in 2021.
Furthermore, under Rebuilding Ireland, the Government is already providing significant capital allocations, through the local authorities, for the delivery of affordable housing:
The Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) was established in 2017 to provide offsite infrastructural support for private housing developments a portion of which will be offered at affordable prices. The Fund was originally €200m, comprising an Exchequer allocation of €150 million matched by a €50 million contribution from participating local authorities, over the period 2017 - 2019.
The Serviced Sites Fund is designed to get affordable home-building started quickly on local authority sites in the areas with the greatest affordability challenge. A total amount of €310 million is available for the Serviced Site Fund (SSF) out to 2021, to fund key facilitating infrastructure, on public lands, to support the provision of affordable homes to purchase or rent. At a maximum grant of €50,000 per affordable home, at least 6,200 affordable homes are being targeted under the Fund. The awarding of this funding is contingent on the local authority ensuring the delivery of affordable homes to rent or to buy from the site(s) without delay. The affordable homes from the sites funded under the Fund will be either affordable purchase under the 2009 Act or cost rental.
Recognising that it is often those households renting in the main urban areas that face the greatest affordability challenge, the development of a viable cost rental sector is also a Government objective. A Cost Rental model is being developed by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Housing Agency, relevant local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies in the context of a number of pilot cost rental projects at Enniskerry Road in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and at St. Michael’s Estate in Inchicore (Dublin City Council). These pilots may provide a useful template to develop further projects at scale across many local authorities.