The housing crisis will not be resolved by 2021, the deadline set last year in the Government's Rebuilding Ireland plans, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has said.
Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) on Monday, Mr Murphy said certain timelines set in Rebuilding Ireland for the provision of 47,000 social homes were “worth reviewing” so that attempts to solve the current crisis did not “inadvertently sow the seeds for crises of the future”.
In particular, he said it was "deeply regrettable" that the deadline of July 1st set by his predecessor Simon Coveney to end the use of hotels to house homeless families could not be met.
“We won’t be fully out of the woods by 2021. The legacy of this problem that Ireland faces when it comes to housing has been growing for far too long. This is an area of public life that has been a problem for us as a people and for the State as a whole in one way or another for the past 15 years.”
The “sensible” approach to solving the crisis was to think in terms of “decades” he said.
“The sensible solutions required to meet this challenge and to over come it they deserve and they necessitate a longer-term horizon than Irish political and public discourse is perhaps used to.”
Rebuilding Ireland was achieving some results he said but it was “good practice to review policy” he said.
“I think it might be worth reviewing some of our time lines, but not our ambitions, in Rebuilding Ireland to make sure that in solving the current crisis as an emergency we are not inadvertently sowing the seeds of the crises of the future.
“That in forming an immediate response, which is already well under way, we do not undermine the possibility of a more sustainable future when it comes to meeting our people’s housing needs.”
The Government was going to have to take a more direct role in the supply of housing he said. “We must make sure we are not outsourcing all of the solutions to the private sector.”
President of the ICSH Justin O’Brien said it was “very evident” that the provision of 25,000 social and private homes which had been identified as an annual requirement was not materialising.
The voluntary and co-operative housing sector had provided almost 2,000 homes last year, and was ready to scale up, Mr O’Brien said. Access to local authority lands by housing associations, as promised by the Government, was required to end the reliance on the private market for social housing he said.
However, he said there was an urgent need for specific plans to allocate particular sites which were “lying idle”, to housing bodies.
“It is very evident that the private construction industry has not delivered . . . The provision of residential sites by local authorities and other statutory housing bodies is therefore critical to enabling the [housing association] sector to deliver new social housing.”