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Here's how the Government plans to solve the housing crisis

Its social housing strategy for the next six years includes 35,000 new housing units.

Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Updated: 6.50pm

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced its social housing strategy which aims to tackle the crisis over the next six years, with a large focus on constructing new social housing across the country.

The strategy unveiled this afternoon commits to:

  • Supplying 35,000 additional social housing units at a cost of €3.8 billion over the next 6 years;
  • Estimated 29,000 jobs in construction and promotion of mixed-tenure developments
  • Meeting the housing needs of some 75,000 households through local authority provision via the private rented sector – using Housing Assistance Payment and Rental Accommodation Scheme;
  • Reforming social housing delivery and management in Ireland,
  • Establishing the Dublin Social Housing Delivery Taskforce, to respond to the current supply difficulties and focus on the delivery of social housing in the Dublin area, and
  • Sets out road map to accommodate everyone on the housing waiting lists by 2020 (90,000 households)

Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly said the commitment to building new social housing marks a fresh start for social housing in Ireland. He said the strategy will provide for a more economic, sustainable, progressive and integrated approach to social housing delivery in Ireland.

Kelly said dealing with the social housing issue was the main reason he wanted to become Environment Minister: “It’s the reason I took this job, to be frank.”

He described today as one of the Government’s “most important” in office to date.

The Strategy restores the State to a central role in the provision of social housing through a resumption of direct building on a significant scale by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies. It emphasises the State’s lead role in building partnerships with other public, voluntary and private providers of housing in the development of innovative funding mechanisms that do not increase the General Government Debt.

The announcement comes after Dublin City Council’s homeless executive revealed record numbers of rough sleepers in the city. The government has also pledged to end long-term homelessness by 2016, as part of its housing strategy.

Commenting after the announcement today, Pat Doyle, CEO of the Peter McVerry Trust, said he believes the strategy represents “further progress towards a properly function housing system in Ireland and places the State back at the heart of social housing provision”.

He also asked that the government not ignore the needs of the largest cohort of the homeless population – young, single males – as they have been failed by previous housing provision plans.

Do it faster and with more money… 

The Irish Council for Social Housing also welcomed the announcement, describing the strategy as “long over-due and badly needed”. However it said the initial financial commitment of €3.8 billion will need to be increased over time to ensure the strategy does not fall flat.

There was criticism from the Simon Communities, which said the strategy does not address the immediate homelessness crisis for people who are living on the edge day to day.

“It is a long term plan that will take 18 months to two years to begin to deliver,” said Niamh Randell, the charity’s national spokesperson. “That is just too long to wait for over 2,500 adults in emergency accommodation all around the country not to mention the almost 800 children in hotel accommodation.”

The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland welcomed the news, but noted that the measures had to be implemented as “a matter of urgency”

The group also said that the plan must be targeted in areas where there is greatest need for social housing including urban centres that have experienced the steepest house price and rent increases due to a shortage of supply.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul said the plans were “long overdue”.

Opposition

Sinn Féin’s Dublin housing spokesperson and chair of Dublin City Council’s housing Strategic Policy Committee Críona Ní Dhálaigh criticised the plan.

She said she is “dismayed” that the new strategy “only promises an extra €36 million a year towards the housing crisis”.

Ní Dhálaigh also accused the Government of wanting to “massage the housing need statistics by designating Housing Assistant Payment recipients as appropriately housed”.

“This plan is not the major step the Minister claims it is and will not provide sufficient housing to deal with the crisis,” she said.

Additional reporting by Órla Ryan

Originally published: 1.03pm

Read: A homeless family will be housed in this shipping container in time for Christmas>

Read: ‘The crisis is deepening’: Record number of rough sleepers in Dublin>

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