Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 2 December 2021
Select Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
Estimates for Public Services 2021
Vote 34 - Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Supplementary)
Deputy O'Callaghan has asked many of my questions with regard to those experiencing homelessness. I know we have made significant progress. There has been a more than 30% reduction in homelessness, but as we head into winter we are starting to see the number rising again. We need to ensure we keep on top of it. The Minister is doing that, but it would be interesting to hear a little more about how we will deal with things as we go forward. Housing First is key to that.
I would like to expand on an area that has been touched on, which is the provision of social and affordable housing and the ability of local authorities to supply it. I thank the Minister for intervening in the matter of the Oscar Traynor Road site, which involved a tender process that had its roots in a previous Government's policy. We are subsidising the purchase price of more than 170 homes on that site to the tune of €100,000 per unit. This site comprises 340 local authority homes, which will clearly take people off the housing assistance payment, HAP, list, and 340 homes for those who do not qualify for social housing but are in the private market. I predict the absolute hypocrisy of people who will be first in the queue to try to get places for people in a housing development they voted against.
That being said, the delivery of those 950 units is key. The council vote was just one step. The support in Housing for All, all the housing models and the legislation all represent great work that has enabled the council to finally build mixed communities, but housing has to be delivered by the local authorities. The Department needs to put maximum pressure on local authorities to deliver but, equally, it has to provide the resources for them to do so. I do not expect the Minister to give me the details of the announcement he wishes to make on it, but we cannot throw enough resources at our local authorities to try to deliver on this.
This morning, local councillors in Ballymun are receiving an update on how housing that will be delivered on the nearly 20 sites there. A site manager has been appointed by Dublin City Council for the Finglas sites of Kildonan and Finglas West. There are also other sites in the constituency. We will need resources to deliver those homes. The Minister has provided the funding and the legislative base. The last step is making sure the local authorities deliver by putting pressure on them but, equally, by supporting them. I ask that staffing resources be provided for in the Estimates for this year and next year in order that local authorities will have no excuse. There can be no excuse for not delivering local housing. We have now done everything we need to do. It is all about delivery, as far as I am concerned. I would very much appreciate whatever the Minister can do in that area.