Written answers

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
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225. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if he will provide affordable and non-speculative social housing units through the development of models such as the limited equity associations and long-term fixed leasing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29471/16]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The Government has published Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, which is available at the website www.rebuildingireland.ie. The Plan sets out a practical and implementable set of actions that aim to increase the supply of homes to 25,000 units per annum by 2020, thereby creating a functioning and sustainable housing system. This cross-Government plan is divided into five pillars, each targeting a specific area of the housing system for attention.

Pillar 2, entitled Accelerate Social Housing, provides for a number of actions to increase the level and speed of delivery of social housing and other State supported housing. Significant funding of €5.35 billion is committed over the period of the plan, reflecting the increased level of ambition, to deliver 47,000 social housing units, through build, refurbishment, acquisitions and leasing, between now and 2021.

Rebuilding Ireland recognises the key contribution that approved housing bodies (AHBs) can make to the delivery of housing supports in Ireland, building on their track record in terms of both housing provision and management. The AHB sector has evolved in a short timeframe from the traditional grant-funded model to greater use of a loan finance approach, reflecting the prevailing arrangements in other jurisdictions, and maximising the off-balance mechanisms. Working with the Housing Finance Agency, 15 AHBs with certified borrower status are currently progressing projects across the country. This is a significant contribution and the Government remains committed to enabling the sector to play a central role in the effort to meet social housing needs.

Over the lifetime of the Action Plan, AHBs will build approximately 4,700 units and acquire or directly lease over 20,700 units using a mix of exchequer capital support, private finance or other borrowings. All of these units will be secured for social housing use using robust long-term leasing type arrangements known as Payment and Availability Arrangements (PAA) that are usually between 20 to 30 years.

The Government is also committed to a range of other structural, funding and policy supports to increase delivery by AHBs. Among these measures is the establishment of an Innovation Fund to support the development by AHBs of innovative financial models, such as Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) or mutual bodies, to further enhance the contribution of the sector to the delivery of additional social housing and maximise the opportunity to leverage off-balance sheet funding opportunities.

These actions complement activities that are already underway within the AHB sector to support long-term strategic thinking and facilitate collaboration, alliances and mergers within the sector. The establishment of a Regulator for the sector, on a full statutory basis, will be a key step in supporting its continued evolution and rationalisation.


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