I propose to take Questions Nos. 35 to 37, inclusive, together.
When the Rebuilding Ireland home loan was initially being developed, it was estimated that the drawdown of loans under the scheme would be approximately €200 million over three years. From the data collated on the scheme to date, the home loan has proven to be more successful than initially anticipated. The Housing Agency, which provides a central support service to assess loan applications, has confirmed that up to the end of May 2019, 4,193 applications have been assessed, of which 2,153, or 51%, have been recommended for approval. The latest information available from local authorities indicates that 823 loans, totalling some €139.9 million, had been drawn down at the end of March 2019.
As a result of this very significant level of activity, the scheme requires a further tranche of funds to be borrowed by the Housing Finance Agency in order to enable its continuation. My Department is currently in discussions with the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform and Finance with regard to this amount, which I anticipate will be finalised very soon. When these discussions are concluded, I will be in a position to make an announcement on the matter. Ahead of such an announcement, the operation of the scheme is not affected. The scheme remains open and all local authorities have been advised to continue to receive and process applications up to and including the issuing of loans.
The delivery of affordable housing remains a key priority for the Government. To support the delivery of 6,200 affordable homes, €310 million is being made available under the serviced sites fund from 2019 to 2021, to facilitate the delivery of infrastructure on local authority sites. Last December, €43 million was approved under the fund for ten infrastructure projects in Dublin and Cork, which will deliver 1,400 affordable homes. Under the second serviced sites fund call, 30 submissions have been received from 15 local authorities. These are currently being assessed and I expect to issue approvals under this second call in the coming weeks.
The serviced sites fund will also play an important role in making cost rental projects as affordable as possible. Two pathfinder pilot projects are currently being progressed in order to facilitate the development of the cost rental model. These pilot projects are at Enniskerry Road, Stepaside, and at St. Michael’s Estate, Inchicore, both of which will inform further the development of a cost rental model for the Irish context.
The Enniskerry Road project comprises 155 homes, 50 of which will be cost rental. Funding of €4.5 million under the serviced sites fund is being made available to this project and construction is due to commence later this month, with completion of the homes scheduled for 2021.
The St. Michael’s Estate project is estimated to have the potential to accommodate more than 470 social and cost rental homes in a high quality development. Dublin City Council has appointed a dedicated project manager and a project team to move this development forward and professional advisers have also been appointed to develop an urban design framework plan for the site. This is a key project and my Department is currently working closely with the council with a view to accelerating the delivery of much needed cost rental homes and community facilities in the area.
The price of individual homes, or the reductions on market rents, to be delivered with the support of the serviced sites fund will be determined on a project-by-project basis. Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, which was commenced last June, provides for a discount of up to 40% on the market value of affordable homes for purchase, with the discount being held as an equity stake by the local authority until it is repaid by the household or captured on resale.
These new schemes are set in the context of moderating growth in house prices and rental levels in the market and will complement other key Government affordability initiatives. These include the Rebuilding Ireland home loan, which I referred to earlier, and the help-to-buy scheme, under which some 11,500 applications, to a value of some €169 million, have been approved.
In addition, approximately 2,350 affordable homes will be delivered on mainly publicly owned lands supported through the local infrastructure housing activation fund, LIHAF, while 5,600 further homes will benefit from a LIHAF-related cost reduction, some of which are already coming to market. The work of the Land Development Agency will also be of crucial importance in terms of delivering more affordable housing. The initial portfolio of sites to which the agency has access will have the potential, over the short to medium term, to deliver 3,000 affordable homes in line with the Government policy of achieving 30% affordable housing on State lands generally.
Taken together, programmes are in place under which nearly 18,000 affordable homes or homes with a LIHAF-related reduction will be delivered, with over 12,200 households also supported through the Rebuilding Ireland home loan or the help-to-buy scheme.