Housing Minister wants to continue in role after December Cabinet reshuffle

The Taoiseach insisted there was "a context" to those remarks, but did not offer other ministers the same support.
Housing Minister wants to continue in role after December Cabinet reshuffle

Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD and Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O'Brien TD.

The Housing Minister says that he wants to continue in his role after December's Cabinet reshuffle and that "very significant progress" will be made in solving the housing crisis by 2025.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, Darragh O'Brien was responding to indications from Taoiseach Micheál Martin that his job is safe come December. 

The Taoiseach insisted there was "a context" to those remarks, but did not offer other ministers the same support.

Mr O'Brien said that he wants to keep his portfolio in a bid to see continue working on the Housing For All document, which he published last year.

"I love the job I do. It's an important job. It's a challenging one, but I relish it and think we're making progress. We will make more progress next year, if that's the decision the Taoiseach made I'd be absolutely delighted, but I think we've got to wait for the 15th of December and see and see what happens then obviously, there's the changeover."

However, pressed on the fact that many people don't feel the progress of his plan, Mr O'Brien said he "gets that" and said that homelessnesstarget="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">, which has climbed to over 10,000 people is "a serious concern".

"We're going to do everything we can to arrest that increase in homelessness. We are seeing new presentations, we're seeing new arrivals as well when you look after everyone, but that does pose challenges there in relation to how we plan but a couple of things that have done in the short term is I've asked local authorities not just ask them, direct them that any tenant in situ on a HAP or RAS tenancy, the council has been directed to purchase that home (if the home is put up for sale)," he added.

He furthered that "we've actually brought in 300 homes in a short space of time there. Those tenants now effectively convert to public housing tenants". 

"But as we get that increased supply up to over 1,000, new builds and the other things we're doing around acquisition, some leasing that's very targeted and targeted particularly in relation to our homeless cohort.

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien speaks during a press conference for the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage at Government Buildings in Dublin. Picture date: Tuesday September 27, 2022.
Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien speaks during a press conference for the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage at Government Buildings in Dublin. Picture date: Tuesday September 27, 2022.

"We will make progress in it. And people need to be able to feel that progress, but I think in the first time buyer space, people are starting to feel it - 16,000 people bought their first homes last 12 months."

Asked when people can expect to see real progress from Housing For All, Mr O'Brien said that he believes that by the next election in 2025, there will be "significant progress".

"Housing For All is the most significant intervention in the housing market ever. It's a multiannual fully funded plan. It takes time for that to take root but it has taken hold now. 

"I certainly think that we'll be able to look back, you know, when we go to the electorate at the next election to point very significant changes and improvements in housing in relation to supply both private supply, affordable supply, and indeed social housing supply, which is really important."

Asked if he would apologise to those who are homeless, Mr O'Brien said: "All I want people to know and I think they do is that we're doing everything we can to arrest the increases in homelessness. I'd flagged that we were going to see increases. 

"We need to get the supply up and we're doing this I know myself as a TD and I'm talking to people all around the country, how difficult it is for people to find themselves homeless.

"What I'm doing is providing additional funding in this budget €250 million in the budget in relation to homeless services, and €4.5 billion in capital to build the homes that people need," he added. 

"That's my singular focus. And those were absolute priority in that our homeless community. I want them housed."

The Minister said that there has been "an incredible response" to grants offered for the refurbishment of vacant homes.

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