New social housing slows to a trickle after €200m cut
Published 09/04/2010 | 05:00
JUST 4,500 new homes will be built for people on social housing waiting lists this year after €200m was slashed from local authority budgets.
City and county councils have been allocated €872m by the Department of the Environment to provide housing, a drop from €1.078bn in 2009.
The reduction in funding comes as more than 60,000 people languish on local authority housing waiting lists.
Another 100,000 are in receipt of rent supplement where the State pays their accommodation costs, housing agency Threshold said.
The Department of the Environment said yesterday that long-term leases of up to 20 years will be taken out on 4,500 homes owned by private investors.
However, it has ruled out taking over large swathes of so-called "ghost" estates, as only properties well-served by public transport links and in centres of population will be leased.
Housing Minister Michael Finneran said that despite the cut in funding, 9,000 homes would be delivered in 2010. It is expected that half of this total will be leased.
"While funding for construction of social housing is significantly less than last year, priority has been given to the leasing scheme while at the same time maintaining funding levels for voluntary housing and regeneration programmes," Mr Finneran said.
"The funding remains a very significant pool of resources in support of local authority and voluntary and co-operative housing activities to meet the needs of individuals and their families," he added.
A breakdown of the €852m budget shows that local authorities have been allocated €366m to build, acquire or lease homes.
Another €220m has been given to voluntary housing bodies to provide accommodation, while €240m will be provided for regeneration projects.
Threshold said it was unclear if local authorities would be able to secure suitable accommodation for leasing purposes, and that given the collapse in the property market, the State should consider purchasing built but unsold homes.
It is estimated that up to 300,000 properties could be lying vacant because of the economic downturn.
"Some councils are finding it very difficult to find suitable properties to lease," chairperson Aideen Hayden said.
"We're not particularly concerned about how the department meets needs, just that the needs are met," she added.