Sunday 23 October 2016

Dublin's social housing units slashed in half despite crisis

New modular homes recently constructed in Ballymun
New modular homes recently constructed in Ballymun

Despite the housing crisis the number of social houses being brought online in Dublin city this year is to drop by more than half.

New figures from Dublin City Council (DCC) show that just over 700 housing units will be available for those on the homelessness and housing lists by the end of 2016.

Last year, the council added 1,689 houses to the housing stock available. However, this year just over 700 house units will be made available.

In 2015, the Government's ambitious social-housing strategy directed that DCC add 3,347 houses to their stock between 2015 and the end of 2017. Funding of €292m has been made available to pursue that target.

The council and voluntary housing bodies have already provided 105 units this year and DCC has refurbished 157 "voids" (council-owned units that had been empty previously).

By the end of the year another 107 units, which are being constructed by DCC, will be finished, including at Priory Hall and a development in Darndale, Dublin 17.

Another development also under construction at the moment - 79 units at Charlemont Flats in Dublin 2 - will not be complete until 2017.

The council also hopes to finalise the purchase of 60 units from the private sector, while housing bodies will purchase a further 142 units.


Just 26 units will be constructed for social housing under the so-called "part V" clause, which stipulates that developers' building estates have to allocate 10pc of units for social housing.

There are a number of housing projects out to tender, which will be completed in 2017 and 2018. The remainder of the housing units will be made up through Hap (housing assistance payments) tenancies, which is when the council pays a landlord rent directly.

A further 245 temporary units will be provided through the "rapid-build" programme introduced by acting Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly last year.

These include 22 units in Ballymun and a further 131 units to be built in Finglas, Drimnagh and Cherry Orchard.

Homelessness campaigner Fr Peter McVerry hit out at the low rates of housing provision last night.

"The number is very, very low and it's very low in every local authority across the country," he told the Herald.

"The voids [vacant houses] are useful, but they are not repeatable. The number turned around last year are in use now and they aren't available again this year.

"My suspicion is that local authorities don't want to manage social housing and they don't want to go back to managing social housing estates," he said.


"I think there is a reluctance on the part of the councils, but there is no other way. The only solution to the housing and homelessness crisis is to build or acquire social housing."

Fr McVerry said that he is also calling for the compulsory purchase of houses that have lain idle for 12 months or more, where owners have no immediate intention to bring them back into use.

"As I understand it, there are more than 40,000 houses that are permanently empty nationally... I would move in and take them over," he said.

Fr McVerry also said that he does not agree with the Hap scheme, which he said many people on the social housing waiting list do not want to use as there is no security of tenure and because they lose a place on the social housing list.

"There is rent security, certainly, but there is no security of tenure," he said.

The DCC would not comment on the decrease in social housing stock

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