Plan for constructing social and affordable housing is ‘not currently on track’
Cabinet ministers have been warned the Government’s landmark plan to address the housing crisis is missing key targets and will not deliver the number of properties needed to address the long-running property supply problem.
A private meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Housing was told the Housing For All policy needs to be urgently revised and additional budget funding for the €4bn plan may also be required if it is to meet its objectives.
A series of dire warnings about the State’s housing policy were set out in series of memos given to ministers who attended the monthly meeting last week.
This included officials saying it is clear that the viability of the Government’s housing targets for the forthcoming two years is at “considerable risk”.
They were told the objective of delivering 24,600 homes this year is on target.
However, the plan will fall short in delivering the number of new social housing units they aimed to have constructed by the end of the year.
And in further bad news, ministers were told the targets set for developing new affordable homes will “fall significantly short of target for the year”.
The Government’s plan for constructing social and affordable housing is “not currently on track,” senior Cabinet figures were told.
Key Housing For All objectives – such as developing a national policy on incentivising older people to downsize – have been delayed.
Deadlines to develop a healthcare model for homeless people have also been missed as have targets to empower local authorities to incentivise people planning to convert vacant commercial properties into residential homes. There has been a delay in developing official guidance on achieving appropriate tenure mixes within communities, including rules on how to engage with local people ahead of developing new housing.
A review of the Housing For All strategy should include “discrete timelines” for a number of measures that have yet to be introduced, the Cabinet Committee was told.
The delay in providing housing is partly due to the rising cost of construction and issues sourcing materials for building new homes, according to sources who attended the meeting.
The briefing also outlined how the lack of housing supply is causing significant problems across all aspects of the accommodation crisis.
The Cabinet committee was told the “exodus” of small landlords is exacerbating the problem in the rental market and called for new measures to be added to the Government’s Housing For All plan to ensure there were enough tenancies for renters.
The overhaul of the Housing For All plan will have to take into account the long-term consequences of housing tens of thousands of people fleeing the war in Ukraine, the Cabinet committee was told.
Ministers were urged to fast-track or obtain greater benefits from the recently introduced Croí Cónaithe scheme which provides funding to developers building houses in cities or refurbishing properties in rural towns and villages.
Government sources said they were taken aback by the lack of action on some of the measures which were promised by Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien to address the housing crisis.
Details of the private briefing come at a time when homelessness figures are hitting record numbers due to the lack of social housing.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has added to the housing crisis with more than 45,000 refugees seeking accommodation.
The briefing included figures showing homelessness has increase by 30pc since last year with 10,568 people including children without their own home. However, it also pointed out the number of rough sleepers had dropped over the same period.
But the increased number of people seeking emergency accommodation is putting added pressure on the accommodation supply at a local authority level.
It was also noted there has been a significant increase in European Economic Area (EEA) citizens seeking emergency accommodation in Ireland over the last five years.
In 2016, figures show 9.6pc of people seeking emergency accommodation were from EEA countries while this rose to 19.4pc last year. In July, 26.2pc of single adults seeking accommodation were EEA nationals.
The rising number of notice to quit issued by landlords was also highlighted as a serious concern which is adding to the homelessness crisis.