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Housing Minister wants target of almost 8,000 social homes delivered despite Covid-19 disruption

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Fianna Fáil minister Mr O'Brien said officials have told him that they expect that 80pc of the social homes build target of 7,736 will be delivered.. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Fianna Fáil minister Mr O'Brien said officials have told him that they expect that 80pc of the social homes build target of 7,736 will be delivered.. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Fianna Fáil minister Mr O'Brien said officials have told him that they expect that 80pc of the social homes build target of 7,736 will be delivered.. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien has said he still wants a target for the delivery of almost 8,000 social homes to be met despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Overall house building completions - both public and private - have been estimated to be less than 14,000 in 2020.

That's far short of the target of 25,000 set by the last government.

The situation has been blamed on the halt in construction during lock-down and safety measures that now have to be in place on sites.

Fianna Fáil minister Mr O'Brien said officials have told him that they expect that 80pc of the social homes build target of 7,736 will be delivered.

He said he wants to deliver the 7,736 target and is looking at ways to "bridge the gap so we're not going to fall behind".

He suggested this can be done through acquisitions, including purchases of properties that had been used for short-term lettings on platforms like Airbnb.

Mr O'Brien said he has asked organisations like the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) to provide data on the impact Covid-19 has had on work practices and productivity to inform a revised projection for the overall number of house completions this year.

He said he believes 25,000 units will be possible next year if construction is fully back up and running and there isn't a second coronavirus wave.

Mr O'Brien said: "Whilst we're working with the virus we've got to deliver as much as we can".

Separately, Mr O'Brien would not commit to banning controversial co-living housing developments.

Planning applications have been made for apartment complexes where residents would have their own bedrooms but share facilities like kitchens.

Mr O'Brien said there is a review of such schemes.

He added: "We’re reviewing it. None have been built. I’m not a fan of it. I haven’t changed my view on it…. I don’t think it’s a housing solution.”

Pressed on if he would like to ban such developments he said he should be allowed to review the matter.

The Dublin Fingal TD said: "It's not an immediate threat because none have been built.

"I think actually the market, people themselves will decide that they're not going to see it as a solution for their housing needs."

But he also said he doesn't want to ban something if it would impact on the provision of student accommodation.

Mr O'Brien was speaking at the launch of an affordable housing scheme in Dublin.

Thirty-seven houses are being built by the Ó Cualann housing organisation in Ballymun on land provided by Dublin City Council.

Mr O'Brien said some of the homes are to be sold for less than €200,000 and he plans to develop a national scheme on affordable housing.

Online Editors