Housing action plan: ‘Delivery will require high level of political leadership’

Organisations in the social housing and construction sectors have backed the plan, but warned that it must be delivered no matter what government takes power in future.

The Irish Council for Social Housing welcomed its publication, but CEO Donal McManus said “a continued high level of political leadership will be required” for it to make a real impact.

“We particularly welcome the measures to underpin the work of housing associations including development of a co-ordination unit to assist housing association supply, the commitment to provide state land to housing associations and to support an SPV [Special Purpose Vehicle] for the sector to utilise finance from non-state sources,” he said.

Simon Brooke, head of policy at Clúid Housing Association, said delivery of the details of the plan was key and that needed cross-party support so the proposals are delivered, even if there was a general election in the near future.

Housing action plan: ‘Delivery will require high level of political leadership’

“It represents a significant step forward and the target of 47,000 units by 2021 is ambitious but achievable if we all put our shoulder to the wheel,” he said. On the issue of a provision for 10% of new housing estates to be reserved for social housing, he said it should be “significantly increased” to 20%.

He said previous plans set targets in the earlier years that were too high, whereas the new plan seemed “more realistic”, adding: “We don’t want the next minister for housing ripping this up.”

The Phoenix Project welcomed the provisions on tackling mortgage arrears, with the organisation’s chairman, John McGrath, claiming that the provision on mortgage to rent “means that the Government is putting a viable solution to the mortgage arrears crisis at the heart of official policy”.

Those in the construction sector also welcomed the plan, with the director general of the Construction Industry Federation, Tom Parlon, stating that the plan was “a welcome step” in tackling housing supply shortage.

Referring to elements of the plan such as the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund of €200m, he said: “These are all very helpful measures to assist in shortening the time involved in bringing new residential developments online.”

The director of the Irish Home Builders Association, Hubert Fitzpatrick, said there was a whole generation of young couples currently locked out of home ownership.

Kevin Johnson, CEO of Credit Union Development Association, also welcomed the plan and said: “We are ‘cheque-ready’ — we have the money and we’re ready to push ahead with this immediately.”

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