Rebuilding Ireland published in July 2016 set ambitious targets to deal with the chronic under-supply of housing to alleviate the housing and homelessness crisis Ireland currently faces. Over the period 2016-2021 the plan is that 47,000 new social housing units would be added to the national stock by both Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) and local authorities.
Declan Dunne, Chief Executive Officer of Respond! Housing said:
“We welcome this level of ambition in Rebuilding Ireland which we intend to match with our own new build and acquisition plans. However, we remain concerned that certain obstacles to the use of existing housing stock, to effective land management, to the building and acquisition of new homes and the creation of communities require urgent budgetary measures in order that the targets in Rebuilding Ireland can be achieved.
In our pre-budget submission to the Ministers of Finance and Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government we maintain that building costs remain prohibitively high, land scarce and that AHBs and local authorities require certainty on the financial implications of the Action Plan in order to fully play our part in the delivery of the plan. We have asked the Government to priortise the following measures:
- Publish 5-year multi-annual financial plan to accompany Rebuilding Ireland
- Increase the Vacant Site Levy to 10% or 2% above the increase in the price of the site and collect this money in 2017 to maximise use of derelict or vacant sites
- Set the VAT rate for new social housing projects at 0%
- Reduce the VAT on materials and services for the renovation of vacant houses to 13.5%
- Waive developer contributions on social housing
- €500 million for a ‘Repair and Lease’ scheme calculated on a cost-per square metre to house 10,000 families on the housing lists
- Carry out an urgent audit of the Building Control Amendment Regulations (BCAR) with a view to reducing the major cost this kind of self-certification represents
- Link developer levies to proximity to services including water, transport, schools…
- Publish infrastructural investment plan alongside Rebuilding Ireland
- Provide for the Special Purpose Vehicle to allow for investment from the Irish League of Credit Unions towards social housing projects
- Increase investment in Warmer Homes and Better Energy Community Schemes to carry out energy upgrades on existing stock to alleviate fuel poverty
- Increase supports targeted to those on low incomes including the Back to Education Allowance and childcare subventions
- Neighbourhood Activation Fund pilot to support integrated estates of mixed tenure
In essence, we are looking for detailed reforms to reduce the cost of building, to make better use of our land and to put social housing building programmes on a sound financial footing into the future.
We are committed to implementing the provisions of Rebuilding Ireland but suggest investment plans are required in order to make the ambitions in this plan a reality on the ground.”
See Respond!’s full submission here
Housing numbers are only one side of the equation – we cannot forget to build communities
Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Simon Coveney TD today visited John’s College – Respond!’s latest social housing development – in Waterford city. To date, Respond! has built 574 social homes and 4 childcare centres in Waterford city and county alone.
John’s College was refurbished and redeveloped by Respond! Housing with the financial support of Waterford City Council and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government through the Capital Assistance Scheme, the Capital Advance Lease Facility and Payment and Availability Agreement. The €12 million scheme has delivered 57 one bedroom apartments, a 10 bed group home and extensive communal facilities. Continue reading
Respond! Housing today announced the completion of Phase I of our new Ashmount Mews social housing development, in the Silversprings/Mayfield area on the north-side of Cork city.
Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Simon Coveney TD visited Ashmount Mews and spoke to the 16 families who recently moved into their new homes. When Phase II is completed, Ashmount Mews will be a 34 house estate, all homes including 3 bedrooms. When filled, the development will be home to 44 adults and 70 children. Continue reading
Respond! Housing association today warmly welcomed Minister Coveney’s Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, in particular the increased funding and targets to provide an additional 47,000 new social homes over the next 5 years.
Founder/Director Fr. Pat Cogan ofm said:
‘We welcome the Minister’s initiatives and we offer our considerable and professional in-house design and production services to meet the huge housing need that the Minister has outlined. Currently, we are engaged in reviewing our Design and Production capabilities to see how we might respond positively to the design and planning needs of ourselves, local authorities and other Approved Housing Bodies. Continue reading
Respond! Housing’s College held a graduation ceremony for its first Cork based cohort of FETAC Level 5 Healthcare Support Students on 16 June 2016 at the Knocknaheeney/Hollyhill Youth Centre in Cork City. 19 Students graduated with a Major award in Healthcare Support, with another 15 attaining minor awards.
The Healthcare Support programme was delivered by Respond! College in Blackpool Community Centre, and was funded by the Department of Social Protection through the Community Employment Scheme. The students are now qualified carers and some of them are already using their qualifications in paid employment. Continue reading
We will expand our Design and Planning Department to meet increased targets – Respond!
Respond! Housing Association today warmly welcomed the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness’ final report, particularly the much-needed emphasis on the building and acquisition of social housing to a new higher target of 50,000 social homes over the next 5 years.
Founder/Director Fr. Pat Cogan ofm said:
“In light of the proposed increased target for social housing, Respond! is prepared to expand our Design and Planning department in order to increase our own published target of an additional 5,000 units over three years. Our amended target will be decided upon after consultation with the officers of the proposed Housing Procurement Agency. Continue reading
Opinion piece published in the Irish Independent 26/04/2016
‘None of us hopes to end our days in a nursing home. Circumstances may dictate that it is the best choice but it is nobody’s first choice.
We are living longer, but we have yet to face up to the new reality that this brings.
We rightly notice and bemoan levels of child poverty that make us truly ashamed of how we treat the most vulnerable in our society. But we have failed, in many ways, to include our older selves in this equation, and to face up to the responsibility we have to our older relatives and neighbours, both as a State and as a society.
The consultative paper from the Law Reform Commission on succession rights has brought this issue into sharp focus. It asks the question: do we need to take account of changing family relationships?
The answer is a clear ‘yes’, but we need to do this honestly, and be prepared for deeper soul searching than we normally do in public policy debates.
Instead of focusing our ire on central government and demanding a solution from the ‘powers that be’, we must examine our individual and collective responsibility to each other.
The solution lies with both ‘them’ and ‘us’. Continue reading
Respond! today welcomed the Government’s commitment to building 100,000 new houses by 2020 but questioned exactly how many social homes are planned to be built over the period. Lack of housing supply is the greatest single cause of our current homelessness crisis and the number 1 way to get people off the housing list and out of emergency accommodation is to provide them with affordable and secure tenure in a social or public house.
Ned Brennan, CEO of Respond! said:
“I warmly welcome the appointment of Simon Coveney TD as Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. Having a Minister charged with reaching the ambitious targets for building, with the requisite powers across planning and local authorities should be a significant enabling element for the sector. It is imperative though that the new Minister does have the right and real powers across Government as he will be answerable to the Dáil and the people as to the success or failure of the Action Plan on Housing.
The Programme for Government also recognises the significant role housing associations have in dealing with our homelessness crisis. Voluntary housing associations built over 80% of the social homes in Ireland in 2015. We have the history, the expertise and the capacity to increase our output to deal with the pent-up demand but needed certain barriers to building to be address. The Programme for Government goes some way towards addressing some of these concerns. We welcome in particular certain elements that we in the sector have long advocated. These include:
- Increasing the threshold for single-stage approval of developments from €2m to €5m should really have a positive impact on social housing delivery. For example, this would mean that development of up to 25 houses would qualify for this fast track approach. Previously, housing associations and local authorities could only build 8 units or less under this process.
- Allowing housing associations to buy properties from investors where a sale could leave families homeless.
- A special purpose vehicle to provide long-term financing for housing associations
- ‘Best practice’ and coordination of policy and financing for the sector
However, it must be noted that the wording of the document is in many cases to ‘examine’, to ‘review’, ‘to look to’ , ‘to engage’. The proposals are promising but action is not guaranteed; we would question if many of these elements will ever actually come to pass. The proposal from the Irish League of Credit Unions to lend €5 billion to housing associations has been on the table for over 7 months now with no satisfactory outcome.
We welcome the new Minister’s plans to consult with the sector for maximum positive impact on the ground and for transparent monthly reports of construction activity. It is possible to measure progress in delivery as we go. The proof of this plan will be the number of new homes built, the number on both the housing and the emergency housing lists nationwide and whether this time next year we still have families living in hotels”.
Respond! Housing Association today announced the re-opening of Cuan Álainn in Tallaght, Co. Dublin following agreement with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and South Dublin County Council. Originally a refuge for women and children fleeing domestic violence, Cuan Álainn will be re-opened as secure accommodation for women and children who are homeless. Continue reading
“We need to start building now” – Respond!
The Respond! housing charity today welcomed the Irish League of Credit Union’s proposal of a €5 billion fund for social housing.
Respond! CEO Ned Brennan said:
“We very much welcome and support the Credit Union’s wish to use their surplus funds to help Ireland deliver the social houses we so desperately need. It shows the Credit Unions have the wider interests of Ireland at the heart of their business model and wish to contribute to the common good. Continue reading