Just 530 affordable homes to be delivered this year, Oireachtas committee hears

Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin said 'the Government does not understand the scale of the affordability crisis' 
Just 530 affordable homes to be delivered this year, Oireachtas committee hears

Officials from the Department of Housing said funding streams for housing projects can take a few years to reap dividends. Stock picture: PA

The Government has been accused of "abandoning its promises" on affordable housing after officials told the Oireachtas Housing Committee that just 530 affordable homes will be available this year.

Officials from the Housing Department were before the committee today as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Government's Affordable Housing Bill.

'Optimal blend'

Barry Quinlan, assistant secretary in the housing, affordability, inclusion, and homelessness division in the department, told the committee that the legislation had "sought the optimal blend of necessary facilitating measures in primary legislation while allowing for flexible responsive requirements".

However, Robert Nicholson, principal officer at the department, said that the serviced sites fund, established in 2017 to assist local authorities to deliver 6,200 affordable homes by 2021, would deliver around 140 homes this year, 89 at two sites in Dublin and 50 at a site in Cork. There will be a further 700 in 2022 and 1,500, he added, based on submissions from local authorities.

Mr Nicholson said the delivery would be "relatively small in terms of affordable purchase", particularly in light of Covid shutdowns, but said that the long-term benefit of the funding would be seen in future years. He said that the local infrastructure housing activation fund, which was commenced in 2015, had begun to see dividends. 

He said that proposals for any housing tend to take a long time to see delivery.

Not acceptable

Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin, however, said the figure was not acceptable.

"When this figure is added to the 390 cost-rental homes announced by Housing Minister [Darragh] O’Brien, that will be financed by the cost rental equity loan scheme, in total, only 530 new affordable homes will be delivered in 2021," said Mr Ó Broin.

“Despite the ever-growing affordability crisis for renters and buyers, the Government will only deliver 530 affordable homes this year. 

"This shows that the Government does not understand the scale of the affordability crisis."

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