Back to work on Ireland’s other crisis – housing

Housing Agency likely to allow contractors to finish construction of 1,000 social homes

If work can recommence on social housing sites, then why not at other housing developments across the country? Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

If work can recommence on social housing sites, then why not at other housing developments across the country? Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

 

There was a sliver of good news for those living in emergency accommodation yesterday with word that work is likely to commence shortly on finishing around 1,000 homes on 35 social housing sites.

Contractors are being notified by the Housing Agency that this work is considered essential and should go ahead, in spite of the lockdown. Construction sites around the country have been boarded up this month due to Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Government.

This latest development follows a process put in place by the Department of Housing under which local authorities were invited to submit projects they considered urgent for consideration by the Housing Agency.

Around 14 local authorities are understood to be involved in the list of approved sites . Preparatory work is expected to start in the coming days and the projects include a mixture of local authority builds, developments by approved housing bodies and public/private partnerships.

According to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), any contractor carrying out this work should adopt its new standard operating procedure, which is designed to ensure that proper social distancing is respected on sites and that proper hygiene facilities and other safeguards are in place.

This will inevitably lead to higher costs for the construction industry on sites and possibly lead to longer lead times on delivery – a bill that the exchequer or State agencies will most likely have to meet.

And if work can recommence on social housing sites, then why not at other housing developments across the country? Some 60,000 units were at one stage or another of construction by the time of the lockdown. Dublin alone had 185 active sites with a combined value of €4.3 billion.

Before Covid-19, housing was the crisis everyone was talking about. And there are many families who will be hoping that the CIF’s social distancing protocals work, so that they, too, can get a foot on the property ladder when the Covid-19 lifts.

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