I propose to take Questions Nos. 37 and 88 together.
The Government, working with the local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies and other delivery agents, is already exceeding the social housing delivery targets set for the first two years of Rebuilding Ireland. Just under 45,000 households have had their housing need met by the end of year 2 of the Rebuilding Ireland Plan – 33% of those targeted under the 6 year Plan as a whole.
Last October, I made it clear that the orientation of local authority social housing delivery was to shift towards greater construction activity, including the utilisation of lands in local authority ownership. Good progress has been made in this regard - at the end of 2017, the social housing construction programme included 846 schemes (or phases), delivering over 13,400 homes – a very substantial increase on the 8,430 homes in the programme at end 2016.
Earlier this year, I advised all local authorities of revised minimum Social Housing Targets both for 2018 and also for the multi-annual period to 2021. The targets are based on the proportion of the Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA) appropriate to each local authority. The results of the 2017 summary show that there were 85,799 households deemed qualified for, and in need of, social housing support, which is a decrease of 6.3% (5,801) in net need compared to the 2016 summary.
In 2018, I expect to see nearly 26,000 households having their housing need met, with over 4,400 new build social housing homes to be delivered through local authorities and approved housing bodies, including through the Part V mechanism. As the ambition for social housing construction activity is targeted to continue to increase significantly, it is critical that local authorities, working with AHBs, focus on developing expanded pipelines of new social housing build projects. In order to support local authorities and AHBs to deliver, my Department has streamlined its approval processes, established a Delivery Office to provide technical advice, as well as supporting local authorities in acquiring additional staffing resources.
Homelessness, particularly family homelessness, remains a key priority of Government. In 2017, 4,729 individuals exited homelessness, which was a 54% increase on the previous year. There are now 21 Family Hubs in place and these are the preferred first response in terms of emergency accommodation, rather than hotels. Through the dedicated efforts of exit teams, 2,080 families left hotels last year, the majority of them moving into homes rather than hubs. While the supply of social housing is ramping up, we will continue to work to find the most suitable and appropriate solutions for homeless families and individuals.