I remind the Deputy that Rebuilding Ireland is a five-year document. We all want it to work in week one, but it will probably take four or five years to deliver on its promise. I think it is on track to do so and the report launched by the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, in January showed all of the headings under which it was delivering housing. Overall, it is way ahead of target and while we all accept that it is not enough to deal with the homelessness problem, as a document, it is delivering and we will push it forward even more. An additional 7,000 social houses not in use at the start of last year are now in use and this year there will be an additional 8,000 such houses. They will be new houses under all of the different schemes and add to the houses we are renting under the HAP and other rental schemes. Solutions will have been found for over 26,000 people, which is some progress, and we will not stop until we have dealt with the problem. That is why nearly €2 billion has been set aside to fund Rebuilding Ireland this year, with an increased budget in the years ahead. We are showing the results and, eventually, the trends will go in the right way. All of the housing we are delivering will provide enough homes. Over 4,000 people left homelessness last year. We have to acknowledge the work done by many people, from the local authorities to other partners who are delivering.
The Government's Rebuilding Ireland - Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness emphasised the need to look at new ways of funding social housing delivery, in particular the need to provide structural, funding and policy supports to increase the delivery of social housing by approved housing bodies, AHBs. In that context, it committed to providing support for the AHB sector to develop innovative financial models to enable approved housing bodies to further enhance their contribution in the delivery of additional social housing.
In May 2017 my Department announced that funding of €49,000 would be provided for the Irish Council for Social Housing to support an initiative through which it would develop proposals for special purpose vehicles. The purpose of the initiative was to provide a mechanism that would enable the sector to attract investment in social housing projects from potential investors, including the credit union movement. The Irish Council for Social Housing has completed two of the three phases of the project and anticipates that the work should be completed later this year.