Over 8,000 social houses to be built nationwide

Housing Minister Simon Coveney will today announce new plans to build 8,430 social housing amid criticism Government is failing to do enough to address surging waiting lists.

His department will publish detailed updates on the new builds at more than 500 developments nationwide as part of its Social Housing Construction Projects report.

The move, which is being backed by a previously announced €1.3bn budget for 2017, is part of Government plans to significantly increase social housing builds, promised after opposition criticism of slow progress on tackling the issue.

And while it has previously been claimed the Government built just 75 social houses in 2015, the Government hopes the planned new builds will alongside other projects help to address the burgeoning homelessness crisis.

Mr Coveney will state that 504 social housing schemes are currently being developed across the country, with 8,430 homes involved.

The units range from having capital investment approved, to being at on-site development stage, and include:

  • More than 800 new properties in Cork city and county;
  • 119 in Clare;
  • More than 500 in the four Dublin local authorities;
  • Almost 300 in Limerick city and county, among other areas.

The developments do not include a further 450 which are the subject of public private partnership funding; 2,300 voids which are being redeveloped; or others which are the subject of capital acquisitions by the State.

However, while the Government hopes that the initiative will, in conjunction with recently announced rent freeze and help-to-buy measures, reduce the homelessness and property price issues, it has repeatedly been criticised in recent months over its failure to tackle the issue.

Recent figures show that almost 100,000 people are on a housing waiting list .

This includes more than 40,000 in Dublin alone, with those awaiting homes in cities among the worst affected.

Last October, Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen claimed the Government has “failed drastically” to address the housing crisis, citing the fact just 75 local authority properties were built in 2015.

In response, Mr Coveney said he planned to increase Ireland’s existing social housing levels by up to 30% in the next five years as part of a wide-ranging national construction strategy.

“We have a raft of measures to bring vacant properties back into use, and we have tripled the ambition of the rapid-build programme initiated by the last government,” said Mr Coveney.

“That is why, this year, we will have significantly more homeless families and individuals housed in sustainable tenancies than last year, despite the directive being in force at that time.”

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