Today I visited the headquarters of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Luxembourg to discuss future social and affordable housing investment in Ireland. We talked about a potential pilot project and examined funding models from across Europe and ways to broaden EIB support for new social housing investment in Ireland.
Examining experience of successful models for financing social housing from across Europe is key to addressing Ireland’s housing shortage. Discussions with EIB housing experts in Luxembourg this week will contribute to ongoing initiatives to stimulate new investment in the sector. I welcome the EIB’s engagement to assess a scheme involving social, affordable and private housing that has the potential to strengthen future housing schemes across the country. This builds on the EIB’s long-standing support for investment in Irish social housing.
For more information on my visit, go here.
On Tuesday the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, and I welcomed the approval by the Government to proceed with the legal drafting of the Home Building Finance Ireland Bill 2018.
Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI) was announced in October as part of Budget 2018 and will be designed to increase the availability of debt funding to commercially viable residential development projects in the State.
This is an important initiative with the potential to provide the necessary financial support, in particular for small and medium-sized developers and builders, to maximise the capacity in the building sector to deliver new homes, especially in our urban areas where the demand and affordability challenges are greatest.
To find out more about HBFI, go here.
On Monday I visited Clare and Limerick to open some new housing projects and inspect potential future sites.
I officially opened one of the biggest social housing projects in the country on the site of the old Limerick Clothing Factory. €19 million has been invested here to build 81 homes – 57 for elderly residents and 24 will be provided to families. It was fantastic to see this plan come to fruition and meet some of the new residents. Further details are here.
In Limerick I also opened the Housing Assistance Payment Centre (info on HAP is here), working to meet social housing needs, and ENGINE – a great initiative aimed at driving innovation and providing individuals and companies with the support they need. More info on ENGINE is here.
In Clare we inspected a proposed site for a 50-unit social housing public private partnership scheme. In Killaloe I met with Keith Wood to discuss ideas he has about rural town regeneration. I also visited specially adapted housing for people with acquired brain injuries and looked at plans for a community & creative civic centre in Shannon.
Following the conclusion of our Second Housing Summit with the Chief Executives of each of the 31 Local Authorities, I am announcing a number of key outcomes and further actions that were agreed to further accelerate and increase the delivery of social and affordable housing. Homeless prevention measures, as well as supporting those who are experiencing homelessness, were also a key focus of the Summit.
Rebuilding Ireland is working – we are moving in the right direction. Summits like the one held today, and last September, are how we drive accelerated implementation of that plan.
Some of the focuses of our meeting were:
- – Targets & Reporting
- – Better coordination & support
- – New leasing Initiatives
- – Vacancy
- – Affordability
- – Housing First
- – Prevention
- – Rapid Build Family Hubs
For full details on the summit, go here.
We are determined as a Government to increase the stock of social housing by 50,000 homes by 2021 under Rebuilding Ireland, with money securely ring-fenced to do this. After our first 18 months of work, we are ahead of target. Yet there are people in our communities who are not eligible for social housing, but who also cannot afford to rent or buy their own home.
We have taken many actions to allow delivery of affordable homes (see here) but as a Government we recognise that we have to do more; we have to guarantee that homes are affordable for the buyer and renter.
We are doing this in three ways:
1. Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan
2. Affordable Purchase Scheme
3. Affordable Rental Scheme
Go here for full details.
On Friday we published the December 2017 Homelessness Report.
The figures show a decrease in the number of both homeless adults and homeless families nationally, with family homelessness at its lowest level since June 2017. The number of adults in emergency accommodation nationally decreased by 16, while the number of families in emergency accommodation nationally decreased by 122, including 254 children.
At the national level, the report reveals reductions across almost all categories in December – adults, families and dependents. The overall decrease of 270 in the number of people experiencing homelessness is welcome. Significantly fewer children were in emergency arrangements during December compared to the previous month. Obviously we still have more work to do to help children and families in to secure homes, but this is good progress for those families who were accommodated during the month of December.
Go here to continue reading.
Today I was delighted to open two new social housing projects in Waterford.
The Department of Housing funded the redevelopment of Waterford’s landmark Ormonde Cinema. The development comprises a mixture of apartments and houses. A three-storey apartment block will contain 7 units and the ground floor apartments in this block will have full disabled accessibility, while the remaining 8 units consist of 3 two-storey houses and 5 single-storey houses. This project won the Most Creative Supply Response award at the recent Irish Council for Social Housing Community Housing Awards 2017. See pictures here.
We opened 10 new homes in Convent Hill, Tramore – a joint venture with Waterford Council, St Vincent De Paul and the Catherine Walsh Trust. Rebuilding Ireland provided funding of €750,000 and SEAI also contributed. You can see a picture here.
Yesterday we published our Report on Housing Delivery in 2017 under Rebuilding Ireland – providing the public with an update on Social Housing supports delivered in the past year, as well as our latest indicators on building more generally.
From the available information, we know that the numbers in Dublin are dramatically down. That’s thanks to the new facilities that we have opened with our partners in the local authorities and NGO sector late last year, as well as the many volunteers and others helping people every night and day of the week.
Ultimately, what each person in emergency accommodation, or a family in a hub, need, is a home. That’s what today’s report is about – how we used taxpayer money to support tens of thousands of new households, families and individuals, over the course of 2017. Supports that will again escalate in 2018 thanks to a 36% increase in our budget for this year.
For full details, go here.
To see a short video outlining the delivery details, go here.
The Taoiseach and I have said on a number of occasions that no individual should have to sleep on our streets or be without shelter at any time of the year, but especially at this time of the year.
This Christmas, there will be over 200 additional permanent emergency beds, with wrap around medical and other required supports in place for those who unfortunately are homeless and need our help.
This morning we visited some of the new emergency accommodation in Dublin 2.
At the Housing Summit, which was held earlier this year, I emphasised to all local authorities and to our partners in the voluntary sector, the need to have enough permanent emergency beds and appropriate facilities in the system for every individual who wants to access those beds each night. Against this background, I instructed them to ensure that enough permanent emergency beds be delivered in 2017, for the present number of rough sleepers and also requested that they allow for any emerging needs or unforeseen additional requirements that may arise.
Go here for more information.
Last week we brought forward proposals to ease the transition of vacant commercial premises to homes to tackle the housing shortage as part of exempted development regulations laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
“The Government is fully committed to bringing as many vacant properties as possible back into use and maximising the use of existing resources. These new regulations will make it easier for property owners to re-imagine the use of vacant and under-used buildings without having to go through the planning process and are the first of a series of measures being developed by my Department to streamline the various regulatory requirements relating to the conversion of vacant spaces for residential use”.
Go here to read more.