Simon Coveney has announced a near €100 million plan in Co Cork which will see work start on some 400 homes in Cork city by May.
The Minister for Housing and Local Government paid tribute to Cork City Council for its pioneering efforts in tackling the housing crisis.
Mr Coveney praised the council’s innovative work on social housing in the city.
He described the scheme as "the most comprehensive Cork City Council programme to fast track solutions to social housing needs in the city in over ten years".
He was speaking at a visit to one of the recently completed schemes at Sheridan Park, Tramore Road on the city's southside.
Mr Coveney noted that in all over 1,300 houses are being provided in Cork through new construction, house purchases, social leasing and the restoration of vacant housing units.
“I am delighted to see my native city taking a pioneering role in relation to the construction of social housing and its willingness to take a multi-faceted approach to finding solutions,” said Mr Coveney during the visit to Sheridan Park where 28 units are ready to be occupied.
He pointed out that the level of housing activity under various City Council initiatives assumes even greater significance since the publication of the Government's Rebuilding Ireland -An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness Programme last July.
Hundreds of new units
Mr Coveney also acknowledged the role of Approved Housing Bodies, which are independent not for profit organisations that provide affordable rented housing for those who cannot afford to pay private sector rents.
Cork City Council CEO, Ann Doherty said the council has a programme in place that will see more than 400 new units under construction on 18 sites throughout Cork city by early May, through a variety of mechanisms, at a total cost of approximately €97 million.
She said that Cork City Council has purchased 131 housing units to meet social housing needs and a further 840 vacant housing units were returned to use in the past two years. 150 units were provided by Approved Housing Bodies during the same period.
In addition to these figures, a further 361 units are being advanced with Approved Housing Bodies for the delivery of additional social housing by late 2018/early 2019 while a planning application for a total of 153 units at Boherboy Road in Mayfield is up for decision by the end of this month.
Ms Doherty said that much of the impetus for the current construction programme of social housing in the city arises from the intensive and creative use of the EU Competitive Dialogue Procedure which enabled them to bring developers, landowners and builders together in a transparent way.
“That EU procedures allowed us to identify sites which previously might not have been considered and to suggest collaborations and to progress social housing in very sustainable locations where there is heavy demand and achieve very significant results,” she said.
The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Des Cahill who also attended Monday morning's event at Sheridan Park, said the city council was pleased to be able to engage in such a proactive and dynamic way to the government proposals to address the housing situation.
“These homes and the hundreds of others either under construction, purchased, repaired or in planning are a tangible example of what the Housing Directorate can do, and how quickly it can do it, when funding and autonomy become available,” he said.