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housing for all

Population rise from Census to feed into increase in Government's housing targets

The latest data from the census shows that Ireland’s population has hit close to 5.15 million.

WORK ON REVISING the Government’s housing targets is to begin in the autumn, with expectations that the new figure could be set higher than 40,000 per year, with a push to get it out to 60,000 homes per year. 

The Housing for All strategy estimates Ireland will need an average of 33,000 new homes to be provided each year from 2021 to 2030. However, it is estimated that 27,000 will be delivered by the end of 2023. 

Following the publication of population data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) census recently, progress will be made on reviewing the targets set out in the Government’s housing policy. 

The latest data from Census 2022 shows that Ireland’s population has hit close to 5.15 million.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has previously indicated that housing targets for new homes will most likely be revised upwards, while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Government eventually wants to be delivering 40,000 new homes every year. 

“It makes sense we will need to revise upwards,” Varadkar earlier this year, adding that targets will need to be exceeded.  

The Housing Commission is understood to have said that Ireland may need up to 62,000 homes built per year until 2050 to meet demand.

Setting targets

However, Government sources have said that while some quarters would like to see ambitious targets set, others are concerned that they can’t be met. 

Describing it as an ongoing issue, they said it is doable if there is an increase in housing targets by 5,000 each year, starting at 35,000 for 2024 and reaching 60,000 by 2029.

Concerns were also expressed that the current housing targets are too low. 

However, department sources state there is no delay in revising the targets, stating that the review of the National Planning Framework must be done first to inform the targets.

The Housing for All policy already shows Ireland building up to the 40,000 mark, they said, adding that the review is needed to inform supply lost during the Covid-19 shutdowns and the increase in population. 

All indications are that the target to be set will be higher than 40,000 but the exact figure is far from certain right now. 

It is understood the new CSO data will inform the Housing Department’s current work with the ESRI to update the country’s National Planning Framework (NPF) and Housing for All targets. 

A statement from the ESRI on when those new targets might be ready stated that its research will begin in the autumn, “but we don’t have an idea yet when it will be completed”.

A statement from the Department of Housing to The Journal said it has noted last week’s publication of CSO Census data, which includes summary analysis on a wide range of topics, such as population change, health, migration, diversity, employment, education, and dwelling characteristics.

A spokesperson said the data provides the evidence base to inform any revision to the National Planning Framework and subsequently any update to housing supply targets as set out in Housing for All.

Specifically, they said the CSO data release on population distribution, which is due at the end of June, will need to be looked at.

Data on housing in Ireland, as well as on household make up, which are due for publication this summer, will also have to feed in to inform such revisions in housing targets. 

The Department said it will also consider carefully the homelessness profile theme which is due to be published by the CSO in November. 

ESRI review 

A critical piece of updating the housing targets will be to update the ESRI’s previous independent and peer-reviewed research on structural housing demand.

“This will underpin any update to the housing targets that may be required. Work has commenced with the ESRI and will progress more substantively with the release by the CSO of more detailed and relevant datasets in the coming months including, in particular, in respect of Households, Families and Children, which is due to be published at the end of August,” said the spokesperson. 

The work will continue throughout the year, it is understood, with any revision to the NPF and targets taking into account, among other things, unmet need in previous years, population growth and updated assumptions regarding household sizes, such as smaller household sizes meaning more housing is required. 

The latest homeless figures published on Friday by the Housing Department showed there were 12,259 people in emergency accommodation last month.

The CSO date published last week also showed that over 109,000 households were living in private rental accommodation where the weekly rent paid was €300 or more.

This was more than double the 48,933 households who were paying an average weekly rent of €300 or more six years earlier.

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