Local authorities to be given €312m for social housing

Kelly frustrated by boarded-up social housing and says they need to be regenerated

Minister Alan Kelly pictured at the official opening of Grand Canal View , Bluebell.Tenants got the keys to 19 New Dublin City Councils Homes in Bluebell this afternoon. Photograph: Collins Dublin.

Minister Alan Kelly pictured at the official opening of Grand Canal View , Bluebell.Tenants got the keys to 19 New Dublin City Councils Homes in Bluebell this afternoon. Photograph: Collins Dublin.

 

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has released a list of locations identified by local authorities where new social housing units will be built at a cost of €312 million.

The plan is to have a total of 1,700 units in place by 2017, with an estimated 3000 additional jobs in construction also being created.

Some of the projects still require planning approval. They range from large projects of 50 units in parts of Dublin to small numbers of houses in rural areas.

Mr Kelly described the announcement as the first major investment in local authority housing for many years.

“It represents a good start but with much more needing to be done. For many years during the Celtic Tiger, house building was something many local authorities got out of,” he said.

He insisted “aggressive investment and action” was being taken to tackle the housing crisis.

Earlier, Mr Kelly told RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland the allocation of €312 million to build social housing units demonstrateed that the issue is a “top priority” for Government.

He said the “positive development” would see large-scale construction of housing by local authorities across the State, with 150 sites already identified and more to be announced later this year.

Social Housing Programme

“To see €312 million of projects across local authorities in this country beginning is something that will show that housing and the requirement for social housing is a top priority,” Mr Kelly said.

He said he had been frustrated by the issue of social housing units that had been boarded up. A huge programme of work had been undertaken to regenerate them and more details would be announced shortly.

Asked if he thought local authorities were moving quickly enough, he said: “That was an issue. They are moving quickly enough now.”

He insisted he was confident the programme of work he announced last November would be delivered.

Speaking then, he said a €3.8 billion, six-year strategy would deliver 35,000 new social housing units by 2020.

Meanwhile, Mr Kelly said the problem of mortgage arrears and house repossessions is the biggest issue facing the government and warned that the banking sector will have to be “dealt with” in a new way.

Mr Kelly said a plan to deal with repossessions and people facing mortgage difficulties will be brought to government in the coming weeks.

“While I’m not going to speak about information that will be brought through in cabinet, I will say the following: that we need to start using levers on banks,” the minister told reporters.

“Banks to date have not dealt with this issue in a way that’s satisfactory to me or my government colleagues and really we need to deal with the banking sector in a way that it hasn’t been dealt with before.”

He and his government colleagues will be coming up with measures to “ensure that banks have to change their policy and have to look more favourably upon people [in difficulties],” he said.

“I think it’s the biggest issue facing this government at the moment and certainly we’re putting a lot of thought into measures that ensure that people can keep their homes, if at all possible.”

He wouldn’t go into the details of a possible scheme which would allow people in mortgage arrears stay in their homes if they hand back ownership to the banks, but said he didn’t agree that involving private companies as well as the banks would result in the private sector doing well from the plan.

“You have to deal with this issue, you have to deal with the banking sector, you have to deal with reality and obviously the private sector are going to be a component of this but ultimately the ambition of what we put together, that will emanate in time, will be based around helping people, helping families in a very unique situation.”