In terms of meeting the need of households on waiting lists across the country, Rebuilding Ireland set ambitious targets for social housing delivery and there is an accelerated delivery programme in place for 2018 and the years beyond. Last year, I secured an additional €500 million during Budget 2018 negotiations, to increase the social housing delivery ambition from 47,000 to 50,000 social housing homes by end 2021. Combined with the target to deliver just under 88,000 tenancies under the Housing Assistance Payment and Rental Accommodation Schemes, this means that we will meet the needs of just under 138,000 individuals and families over the lifetime of the Rebuilding Ireland plan.
It should be noted that we are making good progress, with just under 45,000 households having their social housing need met since Rebuilding Ireland was initiated. Indeed, I recently published details of the social housing delivery ambition to 2021 against the delivery achieved at end 2017 and this information can be accessed at the following web link:
The Government is committed to addressing the use of hotels for emergency accommodation and we are working closely with the local authorities to secure the necessary alternative accommodation. The delivery of family hubs has been an important response and there are now almost 500 units of family accommodation in these hubs. These facilities offer a greater level of stability than is possible in hotels, with the capacity to provide appropriate play space, cooking and laundry facilities. My Department will fund and work with local authorities in relation to the delivery of further hubs.
During the course of 2017, a total of 1,263 families in the Dublin Region were moved on from hotel and B and B accommodation arrangements into either independent tenancies or more appropriate hub accommodation. Nationally last year, over 4,000 exits from homelessness were achieved into sustainable tenancies in local authority and Approved Housing Body housing and HAP supported accommodation. Every effort will continue to be made to achieve the maximum number of exits from homelessness this year, assisted by the recent extension to all local authorities of the Homeless HAP placefinders service, which has been a key response in Dublin and in Cork since its introduction there last year.
In relation to the rental market and the particular pressures faced by tenants, the Government has also prioritised a range of actions to ensure that existing rent predictability measures, such as the Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) and increased security of tenure, are fully respected and enforced.
With well over half of all tenancies now covered by RPZs, we are making sure that all landlords comply with the 4% maximum annual rent increases and we are bringing forward legislation to give the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) increased enforcement powers to act where these new rules are not being applied. This legislation will also make it an offence to break the RPZ rules. In addition, the RTB published a guidance note in late November on the “substantial change” exemption in RPZ areas which will make it clearer for landlords and tenants.
Another key policy that will help to deliver more new properties for rent, and more affordable rental properties, is the finalisation of new apartment planning and design guidelines (which issued for consultation in December 2017), which will facilitate more cost-effective and flexible design to meet different rental market segments. The new guidelines also facilitate the development of specific build-to-rent developments as well as shared accommodation rental models, which are suited to city centre development at scale and which will help to boost the supply of urban core rental accommodation at more affordable levels, in line with the National Planning Framework principle of delivering compact city centre living as opposed to continued outward sprawl.