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10/07/2020

O’Brien sets out his stall on social housing

Words: Roger Milne
Speech / iStock-1131004136

Darragh O’Brien, Ireland’s new housing and local government minister, used a debate in the Dáil this week to set out his social housing priorities.

Accelerating the delivery of social housing with an increased emphasis on direct build is a key objective, and the programme for government contains an ambitious target to deliver 50,000 social housing units over the next five years.

“I will also be working closely in partnership with local authorities, approved housing bodies and the Land Development Agency to plot the course ahead and to agree output targets,” he stressed.

The minister said he intended to:

  • extend the Serviced Sites Fund;
  • expand part V to encompass affordable purchase as well as social housing;
  • provide seed capital to local authorities to provide serviced sites at cost in towns and villages to allow individuals and families build homes;
  • expand the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan;
  • strengthen the mortgage-to-rent scheme and ensure that it is helping those who need it, and
  • retain and expand the help-to-buy scheme for new properties and self-build properties.

He stressed that SSF funding of €127 million has already been allocated in support of 35 projects. “I am going to ensure that these projects are expedited. This will provide for critical infrastructure works that will support the delivery of almost 3,200 affordable homes across 14 local authority areas, including the Greater Dublin Area, Cork, Limerick, and Galway.”

O’Brien said the administration would  legislate “as a matter of urgency” to establish the LDA on a statutory basis to ensure that state-owned lands are properly managed and used. 

It would be tasked to work with government departments, local authorities, state agencies, and other stakeholders to assemble strategic sites in urban areas, and to guarantee the sustainable development of social and affordable homes for rent and purchase.  

“We intend that state lands being offered for sale, whether owned by a local authority, government department, commercial or non-commercial semi-state agency, or any other agency, would automatically be offered first to the LDA,” he said.

Image credit | iStock

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