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Local authorities, not central Government, ‘best placed’ to set affordable housing targets – committee

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The Government should consider “very carefully” before setting targets for affordable housing and should instead allow local authorities to do so.

The Oireachtas Housing Committee will be told tomorrow that local authorities are “best placed” to assess the demand for affordable housing.

In its opening statement, the County and City Management Association (CCMA) will tell the Committee that affordable housing targets need to be “very carefully considered” by the Department of Housing.

“The CCMA is of the opinion that Local Authorities are best placed to assess the level of demand for affordable housing in their functional areas.

“Therefore, any target setting for delivery of affordable housing needs to be very carefully considered by the Department and Local Authorities,” the association writes in its opening statement.

In Budget 2021, the Government promised that 12,750 new homes will be added to the stock of social housing through build, targeted acquisition and long term leasing.

However, the State is unlikely to meet its targets after months of construction site closures.

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The Committee will also hear that local authorities have around 2,000 unsold homes, totalling €350m due to “legacy issues” pre-2011.

“While all these dwellings are currently occupied as social housing units these legacy issues require resolution,” the CCMA writes.

It will appear before the Committee as part of pre-legislative scrutiny of the Affordable Housing Bill.

While the Association welcomed the cost rental measures of the Bill, it said that “consideration” is needed as how to best fund the purchase of land for the building of affordable and social housing.

It warned that the purchase of this land should not have a disproportionate impact on other county and city council activities.

“Consideration is required on how best to fund these land purchases so as not to disproportionately impact on other Local Authority activities such as community and economic development.

The Housing Alliance, which represents six of Ireland’s largest approved housing bodies, will also tell the Committee that while it welcomes the cost rental measures in the Bill, the initial number of homes promised is “relatively small”.

“While the initial 440 homes is a relatively small number given the proportion of households in need of an affordable rental option, we believe that the success of this initial year will provide the evidence and demonstrate the value of significantly increasing recurring budgetary allocations,” the Alliance writes in its opening statement.



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