End-of-year targets for building social housing ‘unlikely’ to be reached

Councils told to complete projects as just 28% of planned homes finished in first half of 2018

The Department of Housing has compiled a “watch list” of  projects totalling more than 2,000 homes which it said it is “absolutely essential” councils complete by year-end. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The Department of Housing has compiled a “watch list” of projects totalling more than 2,000 homes which it said it is “absolutely essential” councils complete by year-end. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The Department of Housing has warned local authorities to hit their end-of-year targets for the construction of social housing after it emerged just 28 per cent of planned homes were finished in the first half of this year.

The department has compiled a “watch list” of housing projects totalling more than 2,000 homes which it said it is “absolutely essential” councils complete by year-end.

A national “build output” target of 4,969 homes has been set for 2018. Of these, 590 are to be provided by private developers through the requirement to set aside 10 per cent of estates for social housing. A further 560 homes listed under the target represent “voids” – long-term vacant council homes which are to be refurbished and returned to use.

However, in a letter to the chief executives of all local authorities, the department said it was particularly focused on the remaining 3,819 which were due to be built by local authorities or approved housing bodies in 2018. By the end of June, 1,051 – or 28 per cent of the total – had been built.

While the trend in recent years was for output to increase towards the end of the year, the department said that in order to meet 2018 targets, it was “absolutely essential that schemes projected for delivery in Q3 and Q4 2018 are delivered, and that slippage is prevented or mitigated”.

Watch list

To this end, the department had issued a watch list of projects which each local authority is expected to complete this year.

“Teams from the Social Housing Division will be liaising with your teams on a regular basis to confirm and update this data so that as we move towards year-end, we can be very clear on the likely output,” the letter states.

Dublin City Council, the State’s largest local authority, has been issued a list of more than 500 homes which the department wants completed this year. Most are due to be built by housing bodies, with the council due to complete just under 180 homes.

One in 16 families in Rathdown now live in homes that are owned by Reits or other institutional landlords

The council’s head of housing Brendan Kenny said the list “does not give a true reflection of activity, it is based on predictions made much earlier this year. But overall we are confident of meeting our target for 2018.”

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said it was unlikely local authorities could meet their targets. “There are a lot of sites which are clearly not going to be completed this year, largely because of delays in the procurement and approval process [which] is too slow and bureaucratic.”

Research

Separately, research by republican party Éirígí shows that institutional landlords or Reits (real estate investment trusts), own 30 per cent more homes in the Rathdown area of south Dublin than the local authority.

“Since 2013, six private companies have amassed a portfolio of more than 2,300 homes in Rathdown. One in 16 families in Rathdown now live in homes that are owned by Reits or other institutional landlords,” Éirígí chairman Brian Leeson said. “These corporations own 2,345 homes in Dundrum, Ballinteer, Sandyford, Stillorgan and Leopardstown, compared to the roughly 1,650 homes that Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council own across the same area.”