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Drop in number of households needing social housing but almost 62,000 still on list

Last year the State delivered just over 5,000 new build social homes.

Image: Shutterstock

THE GOVERNMENT HAS reported a continued drop during the Covid-19 pandemic in the number of households on the social housing waiting list, despite failing to meet targets last year for new builds.

Over the 17 month period from June 2019 to November 2020, there was an almost 10% reduction in the number of households on the list, which now stands at 61,880.

The social housing list does not include households currently living in local authority rented accommodation or those receiving the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) or Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) supports.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said the continued decrease in those requiring social housing support is “evidence that government investment in the suite of social housing support initiatives is working”.

“Just under 25,000 households had their housing needs met last year and Budget 2021 has made available €3.3 billion for housing delivery programmes,” he said.

“This investment will deliver 12,750 new social homes, the largest social housing delivery programme in the history of the state. The numbers we see published today are evidence of the real and positive impact this delivery is having on the people who need our help the most.”

The minister acknowledged that the government “must not lose sight of the fact that there are still nearly 62,000 households who are relying on us for the provision of housing support”.

He said the governement has committed to delivering more than 50,000 new social homes over the next five years.

The Department of Housing also confirmed today that 7,827 new social homes were delivered last year. This included 5,073 new build homes, 1,314 targeted acquisitions by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies and 1,440 homes delivered through leasing programmes.

Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the department said housing delivery last year reached just over 70% of the original target.

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has accused the government of “deliberately underplaying” the number of households in need of social housing by failing to include those receiving HAP.

During the same 17 month period covered in the housing needs assessment the number of households claiming HAP increased by 11,115. 

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“When all those on council waiting lists and HAP and RAS recipients are added together the real level of social housing need is over 140,000,” he said. “Yet government only has plans to address a third of this, and that doesn’t include future applicants.”

Ó Broin also called for greater clarity on whether the shortfall in the State’s new build social housing last year was entirely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The question must be asked why is the shortfall in social housing output significantly worse than overall construction? Is this all due to Covid-19 or were other factors involved?” he said.

“This is all the more puzzling in light of the softer restrictions that applied to social housing developments last year, many of which remained on site, even when private sector developments were forced to close.”

Ó Broin said the minister needs to outline how he intends to meet this year’s target for new build social homes as well as recover the 2,662 homes that were not delivered last year.

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