Emergency Accommodation Data

Ceisteanna (339, 340)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

339. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of families, adults and children in emergency accommodation; the extent to which housing their needs can be met in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4906/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

340. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number families, adults and children in emergency housing in County Kildare; the extent to which their housing needs can be met in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4907/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 339 and 340 together.

Official homeless reports are published on my Department's website on a monthly basis and can be accessed using the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data.

These reports are based on data provided by housing authorities and produced through the Pathway Accommodation and Support System (PASS).  These reports capture details of individuals utilising State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements that are overseen by housing authorities.  A county breakdown of homeless adults is included in these reports, details of families and children are provided on a regional basis.

The solution to homelessness is increased delivery of social housing supports. During 2017, the long-term needs of almost 26,000 households were met through social housing supports and a similar target is in place for 2018.  With regard to social housing targets at the individual authority level, I have asked each Chief Executive to furnish a report to me by mid-February confirming and setting out how targets will be delivered over the coming years. It is my intention that the targets will be published as soon as possible thereafter.  Progress made by each authority, in terms of delivery against these targets, will be published on an ongoing basis, providing greater accountability and driving delivery.

Housing Assistance Payment Administration

Ceisteanna (341, 347)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

341. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the agency that is notified when a landlord refuses to take a HAP payment; the way in which this data is collected; if local authorities are gathering such data; if it is provided to the Residential Tenancies Board; the process by which it is provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4908/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

347. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps being taken to reduce the administrative time in processing new HAP payments (details supplied); if an emergency process is being considered for persons at risk of homelessness; if research into the reasons landlords refuse HAP has been carried out, including the payment delays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4945/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 341 and 347 together.

A landlord or an agent acting on behalf of a landlord is not legally obliged to enter into a tenancy agreement with a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) recipient. However, since 1 January 2016, a person cannot be discriminated against when renting because they are in receipt of certain housing related payments, including HAP. If a person feels that they have been discriminated against by a landlord or their agent, they can make a complaint under the Equal Status Acts to the Workplace Relations Commission.

Misunderstanding of the scheme is often to blame for discrimination and it highlights the need for the State to continue to explain and outline the many benefits of HAP to landlords. My Department and local authorities have been involved in a range of national and local actions to clarify the operational benefits of HAP to landlords and agents.

In order to highlight the benefits of HAP and to provide information on the scheme to interested parties, my Department has taken a number of targeted communications actions during 2017, including the provision of a dedicated HAP website which provides prospective HAP landlords and tenants with the information they need to understand how the HAP scheme works.  Local authorities are promoting the scheme locally, and engaging with letting agents and landlords who might be interested in entering into a HAP tenancy, while my Department is promoting the scheme by engaging directly with landlord representative bodies and fora.

The Homeless HAP Place Finder Service operating in the Dublin local authorities, and in Cork City Council, is a targeted support for homeless households who are finding it difficult to secure HAP tenancies. The Place Finder Service has been successfully utilised by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) across the Dublin local authorities since February 2015, with more than 2,000 households currently being supported by the Homeless HAP scheme. A similar service began operating in Cork City in 2017.

In order to further assist homeless households in exiting emergency accommodation the Homeless HAP Place Finder Service, with effect from 19 January 2018, can now be made available in each of the 31 local authorities.  All local authorities are now being provided with the options to pay deposits and advance rental payments for any households in emergency homeless accommodation, in order to secure accommodation via the HAP Scheme.

The day-to-day operation of the HAP scheme is a matter for individual Local Authorities. My Department does not hold details on the processing times for HAP applications or payments. The earliest date a HAP payment will issue to a landlord is the date a complete and valid HAP application has been received by the local authority.

Limerick City and County Council provide a highly effective transactional shared service on behalf of all HAP local authorities. This HAP Shared Services Centre (SSC) manages all HAP related rental transactions for the tenant, local authority and landlord.  Once a HAP application has been received and confirmed as valid by the relevant local authority, it is then processed by the HAP SSC. On average, HAP applications are processed by the HAP Shared Service Centre within 1 working day of receipt. Any rental payment arising for a given month will then be made to a landlord on the last Wednesday of that month.

Over 32,000 eligible households are currently being supported through HAP, with over 20,000 individual landlords and agents providing accommodation via the scheme and receiving housing assistance payments. HAP will continue to be a flexible support available to assist people with their long term housing needs immediately their need arises. My Department continues to keep the operation of the HAP scheme under review. In general, I am satisfied with the operation of the HAP and I consider it to be a key vehicle for meeting housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme outlined under the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness.

Planning Issues

Ceisteanna (342)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

342. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on the proposal that developers would only be granted planning permission if houses have electric car charging points inserted from the outset. [4916/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I am aware of proposals by the European Commission to amend Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings, on which discussions are ongoing at EU level.  Under the draft amendments to the Directive, it is proposed to introduce requirements for the installation of vehicular charging points on new and existing non-residential buildings undergoing major renovation, and  also incorporates proposals in relation to new and existing residential buildings.

Ireland will implement the provisions of the final Directive when it is adopted and published. Pending finalisation of the revisions to the Directive, consideration will be given as to the most appropriate statutory code to ensure that our obligations under the adopted Directive are met.

Housing Policy

Ceisteanna (343)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

343. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the definition of affordability that the Rebuilding Ireland home loan, the affordable purchase scheme and the affordable rental scheme are based on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4918/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

While there is no universally agreed price or rent to income ratio, or minimum residual income requirement, there is general agreement that lower-income households in particular should not be paying more than one third of their disposable income on rent or mortgage repayments.

Affordability of housing is also influenced by factors including the ability to secure mortgage finance, the availability of properties to buy and rent, the feasibility of saving the level of deposit required and the affordability of monthly mortgage repayments, both at current interest rate levels and in the event that interest rates increase.

Taking these factors into account, on 22 January, I announced a package of initiatives to help alleviate affordability pressures faced by households, particularly in areas of high housing demand and high accommodation costs. This includes the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, the Affordable Purchase Scheme, and a new Affordable Rental Scheme, all of which are targeted at those earning up to €50,000 for a single income household, or €75,000 for a dual income household.

Further details on the suite of initiatives announced on 22 January can be found at

http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/min-murphys-statement-on-affordable-homes/.

Rental Sector Strategy

Question No. 345 answered with Question No. 307.

Ceisteanna (344)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

344. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the significant differences between the Rebuilding Ireland affordable rental scheme announced on 22 January 2018 and the differential rents scheme currently provided by the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4919/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

On 22 January, I announced a package of initiatives to help alleviate affordability pressures faced by households, particularly in areas of high housing demand and high accommodation costs. This includes a new affordable rental scheme, to be based on a cost rental model. Further details on the suite of initiatives announced on 22 January can be found at

http://rebuildingireland.ie/news/min-murphys-statement-on-affordable-homes/.

The cost rental model, currently under development through a pilot initiative, provides that rents will be set at levels to recover the construction costs and to facilitate the management and administration of developments, but with only a minimal profit margin included. This provides greater certainty around the rent, regardless of what is happening in the market. This scheme will be targeted at low- to moderate-income households who do not qualify for social housing support. My Department is currently considering eligibility criteria for access to this scheme, taking account of broader policy on affordable housing.

As regards the system of differential rents particular to social housing tenants, local authorities charge rent for dwellings under section 58 of the Housing Act 1966, on a basis related to household income, with lower-income households paying a lower rent.  Local authorities are also empowered under section 58 to include charges in the rent relating to the costs of works and services provided to dwellings under the Housing Acts.  If income changes, the rent will change to reflect this. Local authority rents, however, are not standardised on a national basis, as each local authority operates its own scheme. A review of the system of differential rents is nearing completion.

Question No. 345 answered with Question No. 307.

Social and Affordable Housing Data

Question No. 347 answered with Question No. 341.

Ceisteanna (346)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

346. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his Department has conducted an independent audit of the previous affordable homes purchase scheme provided from 2002 to 2011 under the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2002 before his announcement of the Rebuilding Ireland affordable homes initiative on 22 January 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4921/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

In 2007, the Affordable Homes Partnership commissioned a report, Increasing Affordable Housing Supply, to consider how the range of affordable housing mechanisms might be improved or expanded by new initiatives to increase the supply and accelerate the delivery of affordable housing. The work was guided by a Steering Group, chaired by my Department and comprising representatives from local authorities, the Departments of the Taoiseach and Finance, as well as the Affordable Homes Partnership.  A copy of this report is available on my Department’s website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/DevelopmentandHousing/Housing/FileDownLoad%2C17193%2Cen.pdf.

The 2007 report made a number of recommendations and suggested a fundamental change in the manner in which affordable housing was operated. It also recommended substituting an equity share arrangement in place of the time limited claw-back that existed when discounted affordable houses were sold.

Following on from the review process, the statutory framework was put in place, through the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, to provide for the introduction of a new type of affordable homes purchase scheme, based on an equity share approach.  A Regulatory Impact Analysis was conducted as part of that process.  The relevant provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 were not commenced at the time, as affordability had eased so significantly during the economic downturn, and as such the programme of affordable housing initiatives were suspended in 2011.  However, I believe this is the opportune time to reintroduce an affordable purchase scheme that is streamlined, equitable and sustainable and it is my intention to commence the relevant provisions of the 2009 Act shortly.

In addition, the Housing Agency conducted in 2014 a review of the operation of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. Following on from that review, the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015 was enacted which provided several amendments to remove the payment of cash in lieu of homes, the transfer of sites or parts of sites, so as to ensure that the remaining options are focused on the delivery of completed homes. The focus of Part V is currently on the delivery of social housing only.

Question No. 347 answered with Question No. 341.