Wednesday, 6 April 2016
Department of Environment, Community and Local Government
Social and Affordable Housing Funding
781. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the reason for capping the refurbishment grant on boarded up houses, given the housing and homelessness crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6228/16]
Since my Department introduced the current programme to support local authorities to return vacant social houses to productive use in 2014, exchequer funding has been provided for some 5,000 such housing units at a cost of almost €60 million. This funding is provided to compliment the efforts that local authorities make from within their own resources to repair and re-let vacant social houses. The latter activity has always been part of the ongoing work that local authorities carry out on their social housing stock as part of their responsibilities as housing authorities under Section 58 of the Housing Act, 1966.
The exchequer funding provided by my Department under the current programme for the return of vacant social houses to productive use is up to €30,000 per unit, which is a strong level of funding support for the repair of a social housing unit. In fact the average amount claimed under this programme is €12,000 per unit. Alongside the latter programme, my Department has also recently implemented a new exchequer funding programme to support local authorities in remediating more seriously derelict social houses. Allocations to local authorities in respect of their proposals under this programme will be made shortly and it is expected that the average cost of remediation per unit will be in the region of €50,000.
I am satisfied that the backlog of vacant social housing units that had built up has been strongly addressed as a result of the actions taken by local authorities under their own resources, alongside the two funding programmes my Department supports, both the main programme to support local authorities in addressing vacant social units at up to €30,000 per unit and the programme to remediate more seriously derelict units.
While these programmes deliver support for the span of repairs, ranging from those units requiring minimal repair before re-letting, up to units that are derelict but repairable and lettable, it is also vital that local authorities continue to play their part in avoiding any future build-up of vacancies through proactive maintenance and repair programmes and the early re-letting of vacated units to those on the waiting list.