Fine Gael Senator for Dublin South West, Cáit Keane, has today (Wednesday) said that the Government’s Social Housing Strategy 2020 will address the current housing shortage and provide homes for those who need them in her constituency, Dublin South-West.
“The Social Housing Strategy announced by the Government today will deal with the housing shortage in this country and in my constituency, Dublin South-West. I am pleased to hear that 35,000 social housing units are going to be supplied by 2020. The needs of a further 75,000 households will be met through the Housing Assistance Payment and the Rental Accommodation Scheme. Sometimes we can be blinded by statistics and figures, but the reality of this is the provision of homes to those who badly need them. The Government has a clear plan to accommodate the 90,000 households currently on the waiting list.
“The news today is particularly positive for Dublin. A new Dublin Social Housing Delivery Taskforce is to be established immediately to deal with the 31,814 households are on the waiting lists of the four Dublin Authorities.
“This ambitious national plan to supply 35,000 social housing units will be completed through the building and acquisition of over 22,000 units, the lease of 11,000 units and the return to use of over 2,000 units.
“For a long time now I have been calling for return of empty units to the waiting list, as part of the solution to the housing problem, so I am very pleased to see this incorporated into the new strategy. There are 655 vacant units in Dublin that, with refurbishment, can be returned to use for the people who so badly need them. Work has started on 245 of these units and work will begin on the remaining 410 over the next 4 to 6 months.
“The €2.2 billion announced in Budget 2015 is to kick start this project. The total cost of supplying 35,000 units by 2020 will be €3.8 billion.
“A major part of the strategy is also the reform of social housing and the way it is allocated. The Housing Assistance Payment is designed to ensure people have the accommodation they need but also to make work pay for people. It is currently being introduced on a phased basis in a number of Local Authorities and will be widespread by 2015. It is better than Rent Supplement as it allows people to take up work without losing their payment, and to avail of other social housing supports and options, if they so choose. Rent Supplement will continue to be paid by the Department of Social Protection to households who are already in the private rented sector but who, because of temporary a loss of income through unemployment or otherwise, require a short term income support to pay their rent. That was the original purpose of Rent Supplement.
“Examples of reform in the allocation of social housing include the introduction of a Housing Passport mechanism to allow greater mobility of social housing tenants between local authorities in order to access employment opportunities, and the introduction of a Choice-Based Letting system to offer more choice and involvement for applicant households in selecting their new home.
“Of course this increased spend on social housing is not just good news for those waiting on the list. It is also very positive for the construction industry, with plenty of potential for job creation in an industry that was badly hit by the economic crash. It is estimated that the strategy will see the creation of 29,000 jobs.
“The Government has worked hard to secure a significant economic recovery in this country and I am very glad to see that the benefits of this will be spread to the most vulnerable in society. The fact is that the open market is not meeting the housing needs of our citizens, particularly in Dublin South West. I have been seeing the effects of this in my clinics for a long time now. Everyone deserves the right to a place they call home and the Social Housing Strategy announced today is going to address the current housing shortage which has left so many people in a vulnerable situation.”