Last week I visited Kilkenny to inspect some new housing projects, to take a look at a previously derelict site which is now under construction, and to launch the Abbey Quarter.
Just outside Kilkenny, a LIHAF development will provide 500 new homes in the first phase, but it is paving the way for 3,000 new homes, schools and other amenities in the near future.
On another site, 27 new apartments will be available for people on the housing list by the end of the year on a previously derelict site. Take a look here.
The Taoiseach and I launched the Abbey Quarter project as part of our urban regeneration plans under Project Ireland 2040 (details here) – protecting our past while investing in our future in a sustainable way. You can see pictures here.
Yesterday I announced funding approval for 25 infrastructure projects across 13 local authority areas. This significant funding commitment of €84 million will support the delivery of 1,770 affordable homes for purchase. This announcement, confirming the 2nd round of approvals and funding under the Serviced Sites Fund, means that, to date, funding support has been allocated to enable delivery of almost 3,200 affordable homes for purchase under the scheme.
We’ve seen recently that house prices have been cooling down, even falling in some parts of the country as supply increases. But for too many people home ownership still remains out of reach. Unless the government steps in to bridge the gap, young couples and workers may not be able to afford to buy their own home in our cities and large towns. That’s why we are using local authority land to build more affordable homes for young workers and couples, and that’s why these approvals announced today are so important. The market will not fix our housing problems alone, the government must lead on providing more affordable homes.
For full details of the 25 projects, go here.
On Tuesday I announced the designation of 19 new Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) across 11 counties. This is the most significant expansion of rent controls since the rent pressure zones were first introduced two years ago. Nineteen new areas will now come under the 4% annual cap. It is a direct result of the new rent reforms that were introduced into law last month. We brought these changes in because while our rent controls are having an impact, they are clearly needed outside of Dublin and in other existing high rent areas. Because of these changes roughly 65% of renters are now covered by rent controls.
Rents are still too high and in some parts of the country are still rising unsustainably. This was anticipated and that’s why we moved to change the criteria for RPZ designation. It is also why we strengthened the enforcement of existing rent pressure zones. These changes will take time to have an effect as they have only recently become law. It is also important to remember that the short term letting reforms should now also see an increased supply of long term lets which should also help tackle rising rents.
The new rent control areas are important, but so are new protections for renters everywhere that were introduced last month with the rent reform bill which had cross-party support in the Oireachtas.
More information is here.
I welcome the CSO Quarter 1 2019 New Dwellings Completion Report, which confirms a strong upward trend across all housing construction activity. While it is important to continue our efforts to ensure that this trend is maintained and even further improved, it is encouraging to see these results. In order to properly address homelessness, affordability and the challenges in housing, we need to fix supply. These numbers show that this is happening.
The numbers of new homes becoming available for use in the twelve months to end March 2019 was 22,242. This is a 19% increase when compared to the twelve months ending March 2018 (18,766), which is a very positive endorsement of all the work that is being done to ensure that our housing supply is increasing.
Of those new homes available for use, the number of brand new dwelling completions added to the housing stock in the year to end March 2019 was 18,828 up by 25% compared to the year to end March 2018 (15,091).
For further details, go here.
I was delighted to be at Dublin Port on Friday to celebrate the graduation of participants in the construction skills course. This excellent programme, spearheaded by St. Andrew’s Resource Centre in Pearse St., takes local unemployed people and trains them to work in the growing building sector.
Some graduates of the course are now working on Dublin City Council housing sites around the city. We will work to assist in expanding this programme over the coming months.
More details on the course is here.
We’re committed to Rebuilding Ireland and in the Independent today I talk about how we are rebuilding our housing sector not like it was before, but in a way that protects our country from the mistakes of the past. You can read the article below.
As Housing Minister, I’ve always been open to people’s criticism. The government doesn’t have all the answers. People are hurting and they need help. As a community, we have to pool our best ideas together and drive them towards solutions to the housing shortage and homeless crisis.
But those ideas have to be based on facts. In a column last week, Ivan Yates claimed that policies to radically increase the output of affordable rental and social houses were not working, and that construction in 2018 had fallen short of government promises. He gave the impression that construction in Dublin was down, and claimed that viability in house building generally is a problem. None of that is accurate.
Continue reading here.
On Friday I visited Donegal to officially open four new social housing schemes and turn the sod on two new social housing developments representing an overall investment of almost €23m in social housing provision in Donegal under the Rebuilding Ireland Programme.
I was delighted to be there to see first-hand the fine work the Council are doing in the delivery of new social homes through their own construction programme and in partnership with both private developers through turnkey scheme and with Approved Housing Bodies. In all there are 115 new homes being delivered which will provide high quality homes to cater for the different housing demands arising in Donegal.
You can read more here.
On Tuesday I was delighted to mark the commencement of construction of 1269 new homes in Cherrywood – this is a very welcome and significant development – it is the largest urban development in the State.
The construction started on the first phase of residential development (1/2/3 bed apartments). There will be a total of 9,000 new homes when complete.
Go here to see some pictures from the day.
Yesterday I published the Quarter 3 2018 Social Housing Construction Projects Status Report, which sets out the continuing progress being made in advancing the national Local Authority and Approved Housing Body new-build construction projects. I also published details in respect of overall social housing delivery across all programmes for Quarter 3 2018, broken down on a local authority basis and tracked against 2018 targets.
Good progress is being made across the suite of delivery streams under Rebuilding Ireland but more needs to be done. Our targets are ambitious for 2018 and we are working hard to achieve them.
As has been the case in recent years, delivery is weighted towards year end. Delivery is being carefully monitored at Local Authority level and all stakeholders are mobilised to drive early completions.
You can see the full details here.
Today I officially opened 44 new homes at Rosemount Court, Dundrum, Dublin 14. The Development has been supported by the State through Rebuilding Ireland with funding of €12 million. The development is built in close proximity to existing dwellings on a brown field site previously occupied by multi-storey flats.
These new quality dwellings comprise of 32 family homes and 12 apartments and provide a further 44 homes as part of the Council’s housing delivery target of 1,563 social housing units by the end of 2021. The development is set around a shared community green, promotes a high degree of passive surveillance of the public areas and provides a secure sense of place and community for the residents.
Today is all about the people that are going to get a new home. The Government is absolutely committed to helping people and families in need of a home. As someone who is working day in day out trying to fix the problems we have in housing it really encourages me when I can help out with occasions like today.