DÁIL PRIORITY PQ WITH HOUSING ON SOCIAL HOUSING OUTPUT

Thomas P. Broughan

  1. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons and the number of families with children, respectively, that will have been housed during 2018 to Christmas 2018 by the four Dublin local authorities; if they are in HAP, other private rented supports or forever homes; his further plans to expedite social housing delivery in the Dublin region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47334/18]

On a number of occasions, I have raised with the Minister and the Taoiseach the fact that my constituency of Dublin Bay North has the largest number of people on social housing waiting lists. In September, three families became homeless every day nationally. Week in, week out, I meet families with children who are sofa surfing and living in very overcrowded accommodation. A total of 35,000 people are living in such accommodation.  Almost 10,000 more are homeless and living in emergency accommodation, hubs, hotels and guesthouses. There are also people sleeping in their cars or trying to do so as the weather begins to turn. What kind of hope can somebody like me give those families as we approach the Christmas period, particularly people in the offer zone, that the situation will be expedited? Has the Minister any plans to drastically improve the delivery of social housing in Dublin?

Deputy Eoghan Murphy

The provision and allocation of social housing supports is a matter for each housing authority, in accordance with its allocation scheme. My Department provides the policy and legislative instruments along with the financial supports, schemes and resources necessary for local authorities to provide the relevant housing services in their areas.

As the Deputy will be aware, social housing delivery targets have been set and published for all local authorities for 2018. With regard to the four Dublin local authorities, the overall target for 2018 is for the delivery of some 10,423 housing supports, including 2,033 build homes, 377 acquisitions and 790 leased homes as well as 7,223 supports through HAP and RAS units. Of this target, at the end of the second quarter, a total of 3,462 housing supports had been provided to households across Dublin. This does not include households accommodated through routine re-lettings by the councils, which are not supported by funding from my Department.

HAP continues to work as a very responsive and immediate scheme delivering much-needed housing solutions for families and individuals nationwide, particularly in the Dublin region. Indeed, the number of new HAP tenancies set up across the four Dublin local authorities at the end of the second quarter of this year was 2,482.

My Department engages with all local authorities on a regular basis regarding the delivery of social housing. This includes structured quarterly meetings to review progress and in the case of the four Dublin local authorities, monthly meetings are held. I am confident that the actions, targets and resources available to all local authorities, including the four Dublin local authorities, under Rebuilding Ireland provide a strong platform for meeting our challenges in the housing sector and I am satisfied that overall delivery of the plan remains firmly on track.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan

The reality is totally different for families suffering in overcrowded or emergency accommodation. Like me, the Minister is a former city councillor. I am an avid reader of the housing and chief executive reports for Dublin city and Fingal. Does the Minister not find those reports very frustrating and depressing? I am looking at the Dublin city housing report for November. From 2015 to 2017, a grand total of 300 houses were delivered on the construction side with almost no Part V houses. The projections for 2018 to 2021 are fairly dismal against the 8,000 or 9,000 people on the housing list in Dublin Bay North. The Minister’s emphasis is on HAP and temporary and insecure accommodation. If I look at the Fingal county manager’s report for October, and I know he was with the Taoiseach yesterday, I can see that his delivery programme in social housing construction is poor. A total of 133 units have been delivered to date while total construction comes to 745. There is mention of tender stage and pre-planning approval. Is this not desperately frustrating for the thousands on the housing list? A total of 68% of all homeless people in this country are in the Dublin region. Does the Minister not have a responsibility to do something about delivery?

Deputy Eoghan Murphy

Of course, I have responsibility; I am the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. This is why I meet with local authorities and why we provided additional money to them for next year to provide more homes. A total of 10,000 more units will come into the stock of social housing next year because of commitments we made in the budget for next year. The largest amount of money an Irish Government has ever spent in a single year on housing will be spent next year. This is a very important commitment. Delivery is key. I was in Fingal recently and we went through delivery and what Fingal County Council is going to achieve. My Department and I recently met with the other local authorities to talk about delivery and not just for people in emergency accommodation but the wider delivery targets.

If we look at the different local authorities, we can see that in that figure of just over 10,000, Dublin City Council will deliver over 1,000 homes on the build side, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council about 180, Fingal County Council more than 400 and South Dublin County Council just under 400. That is on the build side alone. In terms of acquisitions and leasing of real homes which people will move into and have security in, these will be added to by more than 1,000.

Yes, we have to use HAP and the private rental sector because if we did not, those people would be out on the streets. Until we have more homes built, we will use HAP to support them. However, in 2020 and 2021 we will be supporting more people into new homes in the stock of social housing than we will be supporting through HAP in the private rental market. That commitment continues through Project Ireland 2040 out to 2027.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan

Surely the Minister is frustrated. When he meets managers, and I know he was in Fingal recently, he will be asked whether there are steps he can take in regard to the rigmarole of tendering procedures. For example, the Dublin City Council chief executive’s report for November refers to two major sites in my constituency, at Oscar Traynor Road and at Belmayne. All these sites seem to be in a desperate, turgid, agonisingly slow pipeline. We have been told about pipeline after pipeline. The Minister is saying the same thing down to 2021. People cannot live in a pipeline. We need an output of houses coming on stream but it is simply not happening. Yesterday, The Irish Times said the Minister’s housing policy is failing. What has happened with rents is a recipe for disaster because the Minister is not prepared to introduce a rent freeze. There is real suffering here. I know the Minister is aware of it but he needs a sense of urgency. He needs to come in here and introduce some emergency powers. There is no other way.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy

I thank the Deputy. Of course, I am frustrated. Everyone who is involved in trying to solve this problem at the moment is frustrated. We wish we could build houses more quickly. However, there are things we have done to fast-track that process, such as the fast-track planning process, an emergency response that has seen thousands of homes get planning permission in a much shorter timeline. There are other responses, such as the new procurement framework, given we cannot get around procurement law because it is there to protect the public interest.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan

The Minister is not giving us any hope. He is not giving any hope to our constituents or their children.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy

There are 4,000 homes currently being constructed, that is, social housing homes on site. This year 20,000 new homes will be provided in the economy, which is a huge increase on last year, and this will increase again next year.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan

How many of those are social houses?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

Order, please.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy

Yesterday one of the Deputy’s colleagues proposed a Private Members’ Bill that talked about declaring an emergency and having that in place for three years. Why? It is because we cannot solve this overnight and it requires time. However, for the last two years we have been changing planning and procurement processes and we have been hiring more staff. As a result of the work that has gone in over the last two years, the supply of new homes is ramping up dramatically. That said, until we have those new homes, we will put in extra protections for renters, as we will with the Bill that is being brought forward and the regulations on short-term lettings. Of course, we will increase funding and support and services for those who are most vulnerable – people sleeping rough on our streets and families in emergency accommodation. That is what we did with the budget. That is where the money goes.