State spending on housing since 2016 increased almost threefold

Of 6,217 homeless adults recorded in October, 65% were men and 35% women

Tallaght and Dublin 15 had the highest density of social housing units built in the Dublin area in the past two years, while Dublin 2 and Dublin 6 had the lowest number of units.    Photograph:  Rui Vieira/PA

Tallaght and Dublin 15 had the highest density of social housing units built in the Dublin area in the past two years, while Dublin 2 and Dublin 6 had the lowest number of units. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA

 

State spending on housing has risen nearly threefold since 2016 in response to the “significant” number of families and individuals in need of housing support, the Department of Housing has said.

The figures emerged as the Department of Housing separately published statistics showing there were 8,830 homeless people in the State last month. The number of families homeless nationwide rose by 77 to 1,082 and the number of children increased by 169 to 2,513.

Of the 6,217 homeless adults recorded in October, 65 per cent were men and 35 per cent were women.

More than 70 per cent of those homeless in the State are in Dublin.

Homelessness numbers in Ireland fell considerably during the early part of the Covid-19 pandemic, down from a peak of more than 10,500 in late 2019.

However, in recent months numbers have started to rise again – an increase of 263 was recorded between August and September, and 355 between September and October. The department’s spending review for 2021 shows the State’s total expenditure on housing increased by 128 per cent over the past five years, up from €1.2 billion in 2016 to €3.1 billion this year.

Waiting lists

Social housing output and related expenditure have reached “peak levels” with spending on social housing jumping by 495 per cent since 2015. However, output under the Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme (SHCEP) has only risen by 230 per cent, according to the report.

It acknowledges there has been a “significant level of households in need of housing support” in recent years, but that the number of households on social housing waiting lists fell by 32 per cent between 2016 (91,600) and 2020 (61,880).

It notes that rental prices have significantly increased in recent years with average rental prices in the second quarter of last year 27 per cent higher than in 2007 nationwide and 40 per cent higher in Dublin. House prices have also risen, increasing by 34.4 per cent between 2015 and 2019, and rising again in 2020 and 2021.

Dublin City Council continues to be the local authority with the highest number of units delivered through the social housing programme, followed by Fingal, Louth, South Dublin, Kildare and Meath. As a result, most of the new homes are being delivered in the greater Dublin area rather than areas such as Galway city where the overall level of social housing delivery is “small in proportion to their population”.

Density comparison

Tallaght and Dublin 15 had the highest density of social housing units built in the Dublin area in the past two years, while Dublin 2 and Dublin 6 had the lowest number of units.

Nearly 60 per cent of social housing units built under SHCEP over the past five years have been houses, with three-bedroom homes the most common. However, the majority of people on the social housing lists in all local authority areas are “single or single with dependents”, notes the report.

Social housing units delivered under the programme come from a number of different sources – some are leased directly from the private sector by local authorities or approved housing bodies, while other units can be built or acquired by housing bodies.

“Unsold affordable dwellings” that are privately owned but vacant can be “remediated and leased” and units leased by the National Assets Management Agency can also be delivered for housing, notes the report.

However, the majority of housing agreed upon in recent years has been sourced through the Capital Advance Leasing Facility which assists approved housing bodies to secure the finances to purchase or construct units.

Between 2016 and 2020, these represented about 65 per cent of the SHCEP units made available in the State.