Up to 1,000 social housing units to be completed, says Housing Agency

Contractors are being notified work on such sites is seen as essential and should go ahead

Social housing in Ballyfermot in Dublin.

Social housing in Ballyfermot in Dublin.

 

Work is to commence shortly on finishing about 1,000 homes on 35 social housing sites which are currently near completion.

Contractors are being notified by the Housing Agency that this work is considered essential and should go ahead.

House-building work has ceased since most of the construction sector was closed as part of the Government’s final phase of Covid-19 restrictions.

“Local authorities are working in these challenging circumstances to ensure that they have sufficient accommodation available to meet the needs of families and individuals who are currently in emergency accommodation and to households at risk of homelessness during the current public health emergency,” the agency said.

The move 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.

Approved sites

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

The projects are understood to be recommencing as they are deemed essential in order to provide social housing for those on local authority lists, including some people in emergency accommodation, particularly in the light of the Covid-19 emergency.

A spokesman for the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) said that it understood that a number of members have been contacted with a view to completing nearly finished social housing at the request of the Housing Agency.

“The work can only be carried out where it is safe to do so and any company requested to complete works should adopt the CIF’s new standard operating procedure and every employee should undergo the CIF’s Covid compliance induction programme, ” according to a CIF spokesman.

The CIF has written to the contractors involved underlining the new standard operating procedure which it has recently completed, which is designed to ensure that proper social distancing is respected on sites and that proper hygiene facilities and other safeguards are in place.

The induction programme is intended to ensure that all employees are aware of their responsibilities.

Basis

“Before the industry was shut down, images of crowded sites and employees in high viz [high-visibility clothing] not maintaining physical distancing, effectively made it impossible for the Government to keep sites open,” the letter to the contractors said, urging them to do whatever was required to avoid this happening again as this work gets under way.

In addition to this social housing work, which will restart as soon as possible, the sector hopes to get further projects restarted after the current restrictions end on May 5th.

However, the Government has underlined that businesses will only be allowed to restart on a gradual and phased basis and it is not yet clear where construction will feature.

Sources believe that projects on major industrial sites and big plant-heavy civil engineering works might be given the green light early on, but the Government has yet to indicate what will happen.