Minister wants powers to boost social and affordable housing

Cabinet to hear plan to give minister greater clout over use of public land in big cities

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

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Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will on Tuesday bring forward proposals that will allow him to oblige that up to 100 per cent of housing on public land in Dublin and Cork be either affordable or social.

In a change to the legislation that will set up the Land Development Agency (LDA), Mr O’Brien will propose to the Cabinet meeting that in urban centres with a population greater than 150,000, the Minister will have powers to make an order that up to 80 per cent of housing on a publicly owned site be affordable, and the remaining 20 per cent be social housing.

He is proposing to introduce the amendments at report stage of the Land Development Agency Bill, which is expected to commence at the end of this month.

At present the Bill provides for a minimum of 50 per cent affordable housing on relevant public lands over which the agency will have control.

It is understood Mr O’Brien is also to seek a 50 per cent increase in the level of funding to be made available to the agency but it is understood no specific request in this regard will be made at the Cabinet meeting.

Homelessness pledge

Mr O’Brien will consult with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe with a view to doubling the equity investment and borrowing capacity of the agency.

Currently the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund equity investments in the LDA can be up to an overall limit of €1.25 billion. The agency can also borrow funds from other sources – both public and private – up to an overall €1.25 billion limit, with the prior consent of both Ministers.

Mr O’Brien is now proposing that these limits be doubled.

In a separate memo, Mr O’Brien will tell the Cabinet of his intention to sign a European declaration on combating homelessness, which will commit the State to work towards ending homelessness by 2030.

The declaration provides that a European Platform on Combating homelessness will support policymakers and practitioners, help harness EU funding, strengthen evidence and monitoring of homelessness and review progress towards the eradication of homelessness by 2030.

It is expected the declaration will be signed by each European Union member state.