I propose to take Questions Nos. 1280 and 1282 together.
My Department has supported local authorities in the acquisition of second hand properties for social housing purposes on the basis that the priority under Rebuilding Ireland has always been on newly constructed homes and that acquiring existing properties should be focused on priority situations, while ensuring that such activity does not interfere unduly with the local private market and the needs of first-time buyers in particular.
This approach will continue this year and, in the case of the Galway local authorities, it is particularly notable that their construction programmes for new social housing are stronger for 2020 and 2021, compared with previous years. It is important, therefore, that the efforts and resources of the local authorities are focused more significantly on their construction programmes and that they continue to use acquisitions in line with the above approach. In both 2018 and 2019, the targets for acquisitions of social housing in Galway City have been exceeded.
No directive has issued to Galway City Council to only purchase one-bedroom properties for social housing. As part of supporting the Council’s work to respond to homelessness, particularly through the Housing First programme, the need to target one-bedroom properties for that programme has been discussed by my Department with both Galway authorities and at the Galway Housing Task Force. My Department has also discussed with all local authorities a need to focus acquisitions on other priority situations where, for example, there may be tenants with particular needs, or targeting derelict properties. Also, acquisitions may arise as part of the strategic delivery of social housing in areas of need, where there may be no other scope for delivery due to, for example, lack of sites or infrastructure issues. Local authorities can also refer suitable acquisition opportunities to Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) for consideration as part of their programmes.
In locations where, for example, a new build approach is not possible for social housing delivery, local authorities are encouraged to acquire and refurbish properties that may be derelict or in need of upgrade. Funding is available under initiatives such as 'Repair & Lease' and 'Buy & Renew' to support such work.