We are in the midst of a housing crisis at all levels, with issues including homelessness, the cost of renting and the inability to get a council house or to buy an affordable house. The capacity of the Government to deal with the enormity of this crisis is again being called into question with the revelations in an article in The Irish Times today outlining the extremely poor performance in building council houses since the start of 2016. Less than 1% of the social housing that is needed in this State has been built since the start of 2016 and of the 1,093 social housing units built, 638 were built last year and 455 were built in the first six months of 2017. Local authorities only built approximately 459 of them according to this article and research. Across Dublin's four local authority areas, just 478 units have been completed with 324 of them completed by approved bodies. In the first six months of this year, no social housing was built directly by three of the capital's authorities. Fingal County Council managed to build ten houses and has a waiting list of approximately 7,000. In five counties, namely, Laois, Leitrim, Offaly, Roscommon and Wicklow, not a single unit of social housing has been built since 2016.
Even if people query these data, they really reveal a shockingly poor performance. Apparently County Wexford tops the list with 67 houses having been built, which is the highest in the country. There were poor outcomes in Limerick, Cork city and Galway, with 50, 59 and 42 houses built, respectively. No social housing has been built in Kildare since 2016. It seems to be consistent across the board and is widespread and long term. Mel Reynolds, one of the analysts quoted, stated:
There is almost nothing happening in social housing. It seems we are in a mad situation where the strategy is not to build local authority housing at all across the country.
Two years ago, at the formation of the Government, I recall being with independent Deputies and meeting officials in the then Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and I came away with that impression. There seems be an ongoing strategy to not go down the road of building council houses again. It seems to be a policy that is deeply embedded. Given the enormity of the crisis, it is really shocking how it impacts on families, does the Taoiseach accept these figures represent a failure of the Government's housing policy and its attempt to get to grips with this enormity and to get houses built? Does he accept there is a deeply embedded policy within the Government and within the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, as well as filtering down through the Government's agencies, to avoid at all costs the building of council houses and to allow the public sector to resolve this crisis for us? Is this the reality of what has been happening over the last years?