Housing for All plan: Taoiseach wants to ‘end homelessness’ by 2030

Coalition commits €4 billion per year to build social and affordable housing

The Government is promising to deliver 300,000 homes by the end of 2030. Photograph: iStock

The Government is promising to deliver 300,000 homes by the end of 2030. Photograph: iStock

 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he wants to end homelessness within a decade, at the launch of the Government’s landmark Housing for All plan.

Mr Martin hailed what he described as “the most ambitious programme of social and affordable housing delivery in the history of the State”.

The Coalition unveiled the plan aimed at increasing the supply of housing to an average of 33,000 homes per year over the next decade.

The Government is pledging €4 billion per year in guaranteed State funding, which it says is the “highest-ever level of Government investment in building social and affordable housing”.

Mr Martin said we are in the midst of a housing crisis and there is “scarcely a family in the country untouched by the crisis”.

“And if we do not recognise the scale of the challenge and respond in kind, it has the potential to be profoundly destabilising.

“The plan we are presenting today recognises the scale of the challenge.”

The plan is a “direct and radical intervention”, he said.

It would help renters, first-time buyers and those experiencing homelessness among others, the Government pledged, as Mr Martin said he wanted to see homelessness eradicated by the end of the decade.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said it was a housing plan for everyone but was “very strong on homeownership”.

He said he was struck by the extent to which the housing crisis impacts on everyone in society.

“This document is a radical new departure in housing policy in Ireland both in content and scale.”

He pointed to the Rebuilding Ireland home loan, which would be extended. “The social housing programme is going to be scaled up even more,” as the State plans the delivery of 9,000 such units.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said people were finding it hard to set up a home and raise a family and the policy had to address that.

The planning system would be reformed, he said. “Secondly we have to deliver the tax changes set out in this plan,” referring to a tax on zoned land and vacant properties.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said there were measures in the plan around affordability that would make homeownership a possibility again.

He said major planning decisions will be returned to local authorities and be subject to time limits.

“It is the largest State building plan in our history, eclipsing even the heydays of the 1940s and 1950s.”

Mr O’Brien said the “Housing First” wrap-around services would be expanded and said the intention was to eradicate homelessness by 2030.

Pathways

There are to be “four pathways” to tackling the housing crisis: supporting homeownership and increasing affordability; eradicating homelessness and increasing social housing delivery; increasing new housing supply; and addressing vacancy and making efficient use of existing stock.

On the cost of rents, he said the Land Development Agency (LDA) would play a big role in delivering cost rental schemes at scale.

The vacant property tax would likely be introduced next year once the Government collects data at the end of this year from Revenue on the number of empty properties around the country.

Mr Varadkar said the plan “gives certainty to builders, buyers and investors”, and would be the central plank of the State’s housing policy for the lifetime of the Government.

Mr Ryan said the plan sends a message to students getting their Leaving Certificate results on Friday. “Think [about] going into construction,” he said.

The figures

The Government is promising the delivery of more than 300,000 homes by the end of 2030. This includes about 90,000 social homes by the end of 2030.

There is to be an average new-build component of more than 9,500 social homes by the end of the plan.

There is an expectation that 33,450 homes of all kinds will be delivered in 2024 rising to 40,500 in 2030.

Privately purchased and rented homes are to go from 11,500 in 2022 to 24,000 by the end of the decade.

The number of social homes delivered each year is to rise from 9,000 in 2022 to 10,200 in 2030.

Affordable and cost-rental homes are to go from 4,100 next year to 6,300 in the last year of the plan.  

There is to be a focus on new-builds to provide social homes, with the ending of long-term social housing leasing arrangements through the phasing out of new entrants.

In terms of ending homelessness there will be a focus on people with a history of rough sleeping or long-term use of emergency accommodation through 1,200 new Housing First tenancies over the next five years.

Housing for All is promising about 54,000 “affordable homes” including cost-rental properties.

Measures to stimulate supply and address “acute viability challenges in urban areas” including the provision of up to 5,000 cost -rental and affordable units through Project Tosaigh and the new Croí Cónaithe (Cities) Fund aims to ensure new apartments will be developed for sale to individual households at a lower cost.

As many as 15,000 residential units are to be delivered through the provision of State land to the LDA.

There is to be an expansion in access to affordable homes to buy, through an enhanced Local Authority Home Loan Scheme, which will have an increased income ceiling for single people of €65,000 and lower loan interest rates.

The proceeds of this are to be used “to provide necessary local infrastructure and social and affordable housing, to support residential development and for the benefit of the community”.

Measures to use vacant lands for residential housing will be introduced, such as a new tax to replace the existing Vacant Site Levy.

There are also to be measures to reduce construction costs and support innovation in residential construction.

Local authorities are to purchase and resell up to 2,500 vacant properties in their areas.

New planning arrangements for large-scale residential developments as well as broader reforms to the planning process are to ensure certainty and stability and reduce delays.

‘Many struggling’

Mr Martin said: “Many people are struggling to access housing, whether they are trying to buy or rent.

“Few things are more fundamental to us than having somewhere to live.”

He said the plan shows the Government’s commitment to build the required amount of housing, of different tenures, to a high standard and in the right location, for people of all circumstances.

Mr Martin sounded a word of caution and said there was no easy and immediate fix.

“Solving the problem is going to take hard work. The fact is the social emergency that is our housing crisis cannot and will not be solved by any one department on their own.”

For this reason a new cross-Government housing group was being established which would be staffed with the secretary generals of the relevant departments.

“There will be nowhere to hide,” he said, as he promised an “unflinching” focus on the issue.

Mr Martin also said too many housing developments were being rejected by all political parties.

Speaking about a referendum on housing, the Taoiseach said it would need preparation and consultation in the Oireachtas.

He said it will happen in the lifetime of the current Government.

“I would hope we can accelerate that and get that process up and running.”