Minister Kelly publishes 2015 social housing report outlining key priorities for 2016

26 January 2016

 –       13,000 new units across all schemes
–       2,000 people exited homelessness
–       420 Housing Staff Employed
–       5,000 new units under construction rising to 10,000 per year

 Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Alan Kelly T.D. in collaboration with the Housing Agency, today (26 January 2016) published the Social Housing Output in 2015 Report. This is the first annual output report on the Government’s ambitious programme of social housing delivery, under the Social Housing Strategy 2020.
The Social Housing Strategy 2020 (November 2014) sets out clear, measureable actions to increase the supply of social housing, reform delivery arrangements and meet the housing needs of all 90,000 households on the social housing list, with flexibility to meet future demand. The Strategy has been supported by two successive budgets with €1.7 billion allocated to housing in 2015 and 2016. Given the pressing need to recommence a house building programme almost €3 billion in capital funding will be provided in support of the Strategy under the Government’s Capital Plan – Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016-2021.

Amongst the many achievements in 2015 detailed in the report are:

•           Over 13,000 new social housing units/sets of keys were delivered in 2015, an 86% increase in unit delivery above 2014
•           Exchequer Funding for Social Housing in 2015 was €800 million, an increase of €210 million on 2014
•           420 staff were recruited by local authorities to deliver more social housing units as quickly as possible
•           2,700 vacant social housing units were brought back into use through an intensive programme of works funded by the Exchequer. Vacancy rates have fallen significantly and are now down as low as 1% in Dublin City
•           Funding has been approved and sites selected for the construction of over 5,000 new social housing units
•           Over 1,000 properties were acquired by local authorities for social housing use in 2015
•           Approval of the first 500 units of a new PPP programme which will deliver over 1500 units was announced in 2015
•           8,953 social housing units were delivered through social housing leasing, the RAS scheme and the HAP scheme. The HAP scheme is now operational in 18 local authorities
•           NAMA has delivered 2,000 units by end 2015 for social housing through the special purpose vehicle called NARPS (National Asset Residential Property Services Ltd)
•           NAMA has invested €150m to date in acquiring these units – in addition to investing around €70m remediating and completing properties, many of which were unfinished housing developments
•           In 2015, over €4 million capital funding was provided to local authorities for Traveller specific accommodation, which will rise to €5.5 million in 2016
•           In 2015 Exchequer funding for homeless services was €64.77 million, a 32% increase on the amount provided in 2014.
•           At the end of Quarter 3 a total of 1,645 homeless individuals had transitioned to independent tenancies nationally. This compares with 1,491 for the same period in 2014 – a 10% increase in exits from homelessness
•           The numbers sleeping rough in Dublin at end November 2015 had fallen by 46% since the year previous
•           The rent threshold limits of the Homeless HAP Pilot Scheme in Dublin were increased to 50% above rent supplement limits in 2015. This means a homeless family in Dublin in need of a 3-bed can now access privately rented housing at rates up to €1500 per month
•           Under a Ministerial direction, Dublin Region authorities must allocate at least 50% of tenancies to homeless and other vulnerable households.  The authorities in counties Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford have been directed to allocate 30%.  Details collated in relation to the operation of the Direction over a nine-month period (February to October) confirm that a total of 612 local authority units had been allocated specifically to homeless households in the relevant local authorities.

The main focus of today’s report is the progress made to date in delivering on the Social Housing Strategy’s ambitious targets, to provide 110,000 homes for those on the social housing waiting list by 2020. To that end, the Ministers are today also announcing the approval of a funding for a further 1,000 new social housing units. This brings the total social housing projects approved since the Strategy’s launch to 200, which will deliver 5,350 homes, in the coming years.
Speaking at today’s report launch, Minister Kelly commended local authorities, approved housing bodies, the NGOs involved in the provision of homelessness services, and all stakeholders for the very good start made in 2015.
“This is still just the beginning and there is much progress to be made. However, the delivery of housing services will be transformed in the coming years, benefitting from streamlined project approvals, new ways of funding social housing and capacity building at local authority and approved housing bodies level.”  
The Minister said that his main aim is to do this “while maintaining the focus on delivering the best outcomes for those in need of State support in meeting their housing need, while at same time offering the best value for money for the taxpayer.”
Further priorities for 2016 include:

·         Increase social housing further from the 13,000 this year to 17,000 in 2016;
·         Ensure that real progress is made on the 5,000 home build programme;
·         Build the capacity of local authority construction to be able to build 10,000 homes per year by 2020
·         Roll out the very successful Housing Assistance Programme to more local authority areas
·         Launch a pilot Affordable Rental Scheme for people on low incomes
·         Improve the service to those on the waiting list and reduce refusal rates by introducing Choice Based Letting allocations in all local authorities;
·         Deliver 500 rapid housing solutions to significantly improve on emergency accommodation and decrease the reliance on hotel accommodations.

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