Affordable housing for purchase is being provided under Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009.
The new affordable housing for purchase scheme replaces the time-limited claw-back which applied under the various previous affordable housing schemes. Under the scheme, a discount of up to 40% may be provided by the local authority to the prospective purchaser of an affordable home. The local authority will retain a charge equivalent to the discount, and the household must repay the charge at re-sale or during the charged period. The scheme applies to new homes on local authority land, and is targeted at low to middle-income households. The monies of the equity charge will be repaid by the purchaser into a new Affordable Dwellings Fund, which will be administered by the Housing Finance Agency and used to fund further affordable housing.
One of the mechanisms available to local authorities to help them deliver affordable housing options is the Serviced Site Fund (SSF). Under the SSF, €310 million is being made available over a three year period, from 2019 to 2021, to support the delivery of infrastructure on local authority sites, which will deliver over 6,000 affordable homes.
The first call for proposals under the SSF in June 2018 was targeted at 11 local authorities, including Galway City, where it was identified that the greatest affordability pressures exist. I issued approval in principle in December 2018 for funding for 10 infrastructure projects in Dublin and Cork with €43 million funding, which will support the delivery of 1,400 affordable homes. A further 5 projects, including one from Galway City Council at Bóthar an Choiste, with the potential to delivery 45 affordable homes were not granted initial approval. However, my Department is currently liaising with these local authorities in order to further develop these projects.
Following the first call under the SSF, and in order to target affordable interventions, local authorities were asked to complete financial/economic assessments of each of their sites to assess whether the provision of affordable homes is economically viable. Local authorities were also asked to assess the broader housing affordability within their area.
A second call for proposals under the SSF issued to 19 local authorities, including Galway City Council and Galway County Council, on 9 April 2019, based on the aforementioned economic assessments. The closing date for returns was 17 May 2019 and 31 submissions were received from 15 local authorities, including one from Galway City Council in respect of a site in Merlin Park, with the potential to deliver 95 affordable homes, and two from Galway County Council, in Oughterard and Athenry, with the potential to deliver 72 affordable homes.
These are currently being assessed by my Department and I intend to issue approvals under this second call in the coming weeks.
The overall cost and timing of delivery for these projects is contingent upon the completion of planning and procurement in the first instance, and local authorities are working to achieve delivery as quickly as possible, with the first tranche of affordable homes expected to be delivered next year.