Village magazine| What’s happening with housing policy in 2014?
In the following Village magazine article from November 6th 2014, author Michael Smith discusses government housing policy, budget changes, planning bills and homelessness problems.
Current government policy for social housing and tackling the growing homelessness problems are noted. The Labour Party and the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, have made it clear social housing is a priority. For the main article click here.
We have previously noted the drag on housing output the new bulding regulations BC(A)R SI.9 is having at present, with an estimated cost to the industry and consumer of €5bn by 2020.
Given the continuing lower level of commencements, planning applications and completions of new dwellings it is difficult to predict how recent budget changes will meet the ambitious aims of the government 2020 strategy without reform of our regulatory framework.
Extracts to follow:
Minister Alan Kelly:
“Under these plans, we expect in the region of 4,000 additional social housing units built by 2020”.
The upcoming Planning Bill is noted as aiming to triple housing output by 2020 and adding up to 60,000 jobs to the construction sector. The proportion of Ireland’s workers employed in construction is now 5.4pc, which is more than one-fifth below the EU average. The new legislation will also see the introduction of a vacant site levy where local authorities will have the power to apply levies to property owners who leave their sites vacant. The article goes on to comment on homelessness:
“As to homelessness, in May the Government approved the Implementation Plan on the State’s Response to Homelessness, which outlines how the objective of ending involuntary long-term homelessness can be achieved. It is about ending homelessness for people who are long-term homeless; that is, people who are in emergency accommodation for a period of longer than six months on a consecutive basis or those in emergency accommodation for a period of more than six months on a non-consecutive basis in the previous 12 months…
…However Peter McVerry, a Jesuit priest working with homeless people, considers that the budget fails to address the major cause of homelessness today, namely the increase in rents in the private rental market, particularly in Dublin. While rents have been increasing substantially over the past 18 months, the State’s rent allowance has remained static
…Nevertheless at a rate of 2,500 social housing units per year, it would take 36 years to clear the social housing waiting lists at this rate of construction. It is well below the 18,680 social housing units which were completed in the three years from 2006 to 2008 inclusive.[emphasis by BRegs Blog]
…Focus Ireland highlights that it will take at least 18 months until this investment delivers the first homes for people in need. The charity stresses that there also needs to be a clear and effective short-term strategy to tackle the current crisis in family homelessness and in access to affordable housing for single people.”
The article concludes with a critique of the government decision to drop an 80% rezoning windfall tax, a measure introduced to curb land speculation which was the subject of lobbying by the Construction Industry Federation in advance of the last budget. Quote:
“We have not heard the end of the lobbyings of the resurgent property industry, an industry which never learns and only ever forgets. Coming soon: reduced quality, reduced densities, reduced open-space requirements and reduced development levies. Quality of life will have to wait, again.”
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