The Covid-19 pandemic, and associated closure and restrictions of construction sites, had significant impacts on the anticipated timelines for the delivery for Cost Rental Equity Loan (CREL) and Affordable Housing Fund (AHF, previously known as the Serviced Site Fund (SSF)) supported housing developments.
Notwithstanding these obstacles, 25 Cost Rental units supported by CREL were tenanted in 2021 in Taylor Hill, Co. Dublin with rents ranging between €900 and €1,250, an average of 40% below comparative market rates. A further 40 CREL-supported Cost Rental units will be tenanted before year-end (Barnhall, Co Kildare, with rents starting from €900 per month). Additionally, under the first round of CREL funding alone, 325 Cost Rental units will be delivered in 2022, across 4 local authorities.
In relation to SSF/AHF supported housing developments, notwithstanding the impact of Covid-19, 50 Cost Rental two bedroomed homes supported through the SSF/AHB have reached completion, with the tenanting process being finalised (Enniskerry Road, Co. Dublin, with rents of €1,200 per month). The first SSF/AHF-supported affordable homes for purchase will be available to purchase in Cork city in Q1 2022 (Boherboy, Cork City Council indicated prices to be €218,000 for a 2-bedroom and €243,000 for a 3-bedroom dwelling). This will be followed by a Fingal County Council supported affordable purchase development (Dun Emer, Fingal County Council have indicated these will cost €166,000 for a 2-bed apartment and between 206,000 and €258,000 for 3-bed dwellings).
In addition to the CREL and SSF/AHF supported affordable homes, in 2021 several Local Authorities have collaborated with Ó Cualann Co-Housing Alliance to deliver affordable homes for purchase. Under such arrangements, Local Authority-owned development land is provided at nominal cost and development levies are reduced or eliminated. The most recently completed phase through such arrangements will deliver a total of 37 affordable homes for purchase by year-end (Oileáin na Crannóige extension).
Under the Government’s Housing for All strategy, the AHF and CREL scheme are two important components in delivering the 54,000 affordable homes targeted between now and 2030. But additional delivery streams will also be required. Recognizing this, the Government brought forward first standalone affordable housing legislation in the Affordable Housing Act 2021. This will support the implementation of a multi-faceted approach which, combined with unprecedented levels of funding, will allow a huge scale-up in the near and medium delivery of affordable homes.
Examples of new affordable housing interventions include;
- A second round of CREL funding was launched on 22 October, and applications for this are currently being assessed. Approval-in-principle will be issued to successful applications before year-end.
- The Land Development Agency initiated a call under Project Tosaigh on 12 November focused on kick-starting stalled private developments and securing additional affordable homes. This call targeted scale in excess of 150 affordable units per development.
- Similarly, the Housing Delivery Coordination Office (within the LGMA) issued a call to secure additional affordable homes across key local authorities from stalled private developments, targeting smaller scale private developments.
- Significant progress is being made in establishing the First Home Affordable Purchase Shared Equity scheme. The First Home scheme is designed to support first-time buyers purchasing homes on the private market, and will be available at a national level for applications next year.
- The Croí Cónaithe initiative is in the final stages of design. This initiative focuses on overcoming the viability challenges associated with un-activated planning permissions in urban brownfield areas, estimated at 80,000 dwellings nationally. It is intended that the first calls under this initiative will be made in January.