Thursday, 1 April 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
156. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the extent to which he has considered additional measures to address the housing crisis with particular reference to the rapidly escalating house prices, the increasing number of persons seeking to purchase an affordable house and the number of applicants on local authority housing waiting list; his plans to introduce radical measures to address the situation which is now for many persons an emergency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18006/21]
In terms of the number of households on social housing waiting lists, details on the number of households qualified for social housing support in each local authority administrative area are provided in the annual statutory Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA).
The most recent summary, conducted in November 2020, shows that 61,880 households were assessed as qualified for, and being in need of, social housing support. This represents a decrease of 6,813 households or 9.9% on the last assessment in June 2019. Since 2016, the numbers have decreased from 91,600 to 61,880, a reduction of 32.4%.
In line with the commitment to put affordability at the heart of the housing system in the Programme for Government, ‘Our Shared Future’, Government approved the priority drafting of the Affordable Housing Bill 2020 on 22 December 2020, and I published the General Scheme on 20 January last.
The Bill includes provisions to underpin three schemes delivering on the Programme for Government commitment to prioritise the increased supply of affordable homes through (1) affordable homes for purchase delivered by local authorities (2) a new affordable purchase shared equity scheme for private homes, and (3) the introduction of a new form of tenure in Cost Rental. The provision of affordable housing to purchase is covered by two of the three elements of the Bill. The drafting of the Bill is progressing well.
The Serviced Sites Fund (SSF) supports affordable homes being delivered by local authorities, funding infrastructure on local authority lands to enable the delivery of affordable homes to purchase or rent. Funding of almost €188 million has been approved in principle in support of 38 infrastructure projects in 14 local authority areas, which will assist in the delivery of almost 4,000 more affordable homes. In addition to these projects, approval in principle has also been given to three further applications for SSF funding, namely, Dublin City Council’s projects in Emmet Road and Oscar Traynor Road, and Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council’s project in Shanganagh. Affordable homes for purchase provided by local authorities via the SSF will come with an initial purchase price of between 10% and 40% below market prices.
Another element of the Bill, the Affordable Purchase Shared Equity scheme, is designed to help bridge the gap, by means of an equity stake, between the mortgage people have and the price of the new home they wish to buy. This affordability measure will increase housing supply and will enable First Time Buyers to buy a new home at a price they can afford.
In addition to the measures in the Affordable Housing Bill 2020, the Land Development Agency is tasked to work with Government Departments, local authorities, state agencies and other stakeholders to assemble strategic sites in urban areas and ensure the sustainable development of social and affordable homes for rent and purchase. On establishment, the LDA had access to an initial tranche of 8 sites that have near term delivery potential for approximately 3,400 new homes. The LDA will have regard to Government policy, and all appropriate legislation, on the appropriate tenure mix for developments on public land, as well as the criteria for the operation of cost rental and affordable housing schemes.
Additional affordability measures which promote housing supply, such as the Help to buy scheme and the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, are already available to eligible applicants.
The Help to Buy Scheme has had 23,545 approvals by the end of February 2021, with the estimated total value of approved Help to Buy claims to date in the order of €389.2 million.
At the end of February 2021, the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan had 3,817 approvals. Budget 2021 confirmed that €210 million has been sanctioned for RIHL lending in 2021.