Minister hails social housing increase

The Government has announced that more than 8,400 social housing units were built, repaired or made available last year. The figure met just over half of new demands on council housing lists, however.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy’s officials say the new figures for 2018 show that of the 8,422 properties brought into the social housing stock, 4,251 were new builds, 560 were renovated voids, while another 3,611 were acquisitions and long- term leased properties.

His department said that the end-of-year figure is an 85% increase in social housing numbers compared to the previous year.

But, responding to the increase, Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said the numbers delivered were limited because targets were so low. 

They came nowhere near meeting new social housing demands for the year, he added.

“According to the Department of Housing, just 6,861 real social houses owned and managed by Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies were delivered in 2018. This is 20% less than what was recommended by the 2016 Dáil Housing and Homeless Committee report.

“Given that more than 14,000 new households came onto the council housing lists in 2018, it is clear that the Government’s social housing targets will come nowhere near meeting existing or new demand.

While the increase in new builds is welcome, it is nothing to celebrate, given that the targets were set so low in the first place.

Nonetheless, the Department of Housing said that the number of new social housing homes built in 2018 was eight times greater than the number built in 2015 (when voids are excluded) — the year before its major Rebuilding Ireland programme was launched.

Furthermore, it said that construction figures from December 2018 show almost 5,000 new social housing homes currently being built across 291 sites.

Almost four in 10 of these were delivered in partnership with local authorities, the department said.

In a statement, Mr Murphy added: “Roughly one in four new homes built last year was a social housing home.”

“Our plan to dramatically increase supply is working.

“A real improvement was made for thousands of families last year. But still there is a lot more work to do for those who are depending on us, not least those in emergency accommodation.

“I will continue to drive the delivery of new houses and housing solutions, working with the local authorities and housing bodies.”

However, despite the increases, Sinn Féin still said that there is still an “over reliance” on private rented sector to meet social housing needs.

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