Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Questions (94)

Patrick O'Donovan


94. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if notices, circulars or guidance have issued to Limerick City and County Council on the affordable housing scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35478/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In Budget 2021, the total funding being made available for the delivery of housing programmes was €3.3 billion. From this sum, €468 million will be specifically provided to support housing affordability measures. This includes the Serviced Sites Fund, the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan and the Land Development Agency (LDA). Limerick County and City Council has actively engaged in all of these programmes to progress the delivery of more affordable homes in its administrative area.

In addition to these programmes, and to deliver on our Programme for Government commitments to provide measures for good-quality housing to purchase or rent at an affordable price, €110 million was ring-fenced for a new national Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme and a new Cost Rental Equity Loan facility to help deliver Cost Rental homes both of which will begin in 2021.

€75 million will be allocated to the affordable purchase shared equity scheme. I intend to target the scheme at first time buyers, who are seeking to buy a new home but who cannot quite secure the full mortgage amount to do so at the present time. Subject to the final qualifying criteria, the scheme would see the State take a limited equity stake in a property, in order to help more people meet the cost of buying a new home with their available mortgage.

To this end, significant preparatory work has already been carried out by my Department working primarily with the Housing Agency and the Department of Finance. Intensive engagement continues with key stakeholders informing the final detailed parameters of the scheme, as well as with home builders to seek to increase the output of new homes in response to the new scheme.

In addition, €35 million has been allocated to the new Cost Rental Equity Loan (CREL) facility to support Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to deliver Cost Rental housing at scale from next year. Added to the 50 Cost Rental homes that will be delivered in Enniskerry Road, Stepaside in Q3 2021, it will accelerate delivery in this new sector in advance of the Land Development Agency's planned future output and the work of local authorities. This scheme will leverage the proven expertise and capacity of the AHBs, demonstrated in their development and management of social housing units.

The CREL scheme will see financing made available to AHBs on favourable terms to cover 30% of the costs for Cost Rental homes. CREL funding will be provided on similar terms to the existing Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF) model which is extensively used by AHBs for social housing. In terms of the remaining 70% of capital costs, subject to appropriate conditions, it is anticipated that long term competitive financing will be made available to the AHBs by the Housing Finance Agency. This will allow cost-covering rents to be set a lower level and so making them more affordable for tenants. Further details on the scheme will be announced in due course.

In addition to these new schemes, €50 million will be allocated for the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF) in 2021. The purpose of the SSF is to provide infrastructure to support the delivery of more affordable new homes for purchase or rent on local authority lands and in those areas where local authorities have identified an affordability challenge and the viability to deliver homes and below open market purchase prices. Local Authorities will sell affordable homes for purchase under the provisions of Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and I can confirm that a number of communications have issued from the Department to all local authorities in this regard as well as through dedicated briefing sessions held for local authorities. In advance of finalising the remaining Regulations required to make the local authority led Affordable Purchase Dwelling Arrangements fully operational and before the first affordable homes come on stream in early 2021, I have instructed my officials to review the provisions to ensure they remain fit for purpose.

An invitation to submit project proposals issued to Limerick City and County Council from my Department in April 2019. Five projects from the Council received approval in principle and cumulatively they will support the delivery of 420 affordable homes in the county. Details of these projects can be found at the following link:

I can confirm that officials from my Department engage regularly with officials from Limerick City and County Council on the progression of these projects.

I intend to bring forward any necessary provisions to underpin these schemes in a forthcoming Affordable Housing Bill.