Housing target may not be reached because of Covid-19 pandemic

Eoghan Murphy: ‘Plenty of funding available from Europe and other sources’ for housing

The Dáil has heard warnings that just 18,000 new homes could be built by the end of the year. And this despite a target of 25,000 for 2020.

Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Darragh O’Brien said he had seen projections “and from talking to stakeholders we could be looking at as few as 18,000 homes by the end of this year”.

There would still be a major supply problem across public and private housing, he warned.

He called for the European Union to revise its fiscal rules to ensure that “each member state has the capacity to invest directly in housing as part of a stimulus package”.


Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said an agreement was reached between the Housing Finance Agency and the European Investment Bank for an additional €200 million in December.

Mr Murphy said “there was meant to be a signing agreement, but it clashed with the general election so that didn’t happen. But that money is secure and in place so there’s plenty of funding available from Europe and other sources to put into housing.”

The Minister said that one of the challenges to be faced as new sites open up is social distancing “and how that might affect the capacity that can actually be delivered in the next six months”.

They were speaking in the Dáil last night during a question-and-answer session on housing.

Mr Murphy said that 5,000 homes had been built in the first quarter of the year before building sites were shut down.

They had identified 1,000 homes on 39 sites that could be reopened and they were almost finished.

“They will be new homes for people either in emergency accommodation or coming off the housing list. And it’s very important work that’s being done and I’m glad it’s been able to progress despite the fact that most sites have had to close.”

What of social-housing goals?

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin also expressed concern about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on social-housing targets and the slow pace with reopened sites because of social-distancing requirements.

He asked if the Minister was looking at ways to meet targets. And he also asked if some private sector sites which might no longer be viable because of the “loss of future sales” could be “acquired as turnkeys at existing use value that by the department and the local authority to meet the shortfall”.

Mr Murphy said they were looking at private sector sites as turnkeys as part of ways to meet social-housing targets and ways to assist people to get back on sites and give some sort of employment security.

The Minister added that “very shortly we’ll publish the 2019 social housing delivery figure and we’ll give all the breakdowns”.

They had not been able to give the detailed breakdown for each local authority because of the pandemic.

“We will do that and as we do that we’ll figure out might there need to be more acquisitions depending on what’s happening on social housing sites.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times