Government promises to build 47,000 social houses by 2021

Simon Coveney says the "immediate priority is housing homeless families"

government, action, plan, housing, homeless

Image: Paraic Gallagher

The Government has published its housing and homelessness document, which plans to kickstart the housing industry with 47,000 social houses to be delivered in six years.

The €5.5bn programme plans to put an end to hotels and B&Bs for emergency accommodation within a year.

It also includes a first-time buyers tax break, which will be announced in the October budget.

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny says this plan is to deal with all the housing issues "fully and finally".

The 'Rebuilding Ireland' action plan - which is available here - has five key pillars to resolve the housing crisis:

  • Address Homelessness,
  • Accelerate Social Housing,
  • Build More Homes,
  • Improve the Rental sector
  • Utilise Existing Housing

Some of the measures include the "potential role of new mechanisms for both setting and reviewing rent"; moving homeless families out of hotels; and removing 'regulatory barriers' to re-using vacant properties.

It commits to urban regeneration, as well as village and rural renewal initiatives. The Government also says it will continue work to resolve 'unfinished' housing projects.

The plan follows the Government's committment to double the output of overall housing from current levels to at least 25,000 per annum over the next five years.

However, the opposition reaction has varied from cold to lukewarm, and the plan has been criticised in the Dáil.

Mr Kenny admitted he could not say how many new council houses would be built under the plan.

Richard Boyd-Barrett of People Before Profit says the plan is light on substance.

"At best, it is yet another mirage and false dawn for people who despeartely need solutions to the crisis," he argued.

"At worst, I believe it is a cynical exercise in spoof and dishonesty."

The Anti-Austerity Alliance is not happy at what it says will be the end of local authority housing.

Dublin West TD Ruth Coppinger says this will not deliver housing for people.

While the plan has been generally welcomed by homelessness campaigners.

Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust, said: “The Housing Action Plan is a strong statement of intent and if implemented in full will bring about a significant reduction in the number of people in homelessness and result in a dramatic increase in the number of housing units available in the housing system as a whole."

Irish Council for Social Housing CEO Dr Donal McManus said: “The Plan and its prioritisation in Government is very welcome and in order for it to make a real impact a continued high level of political leadership will be required.”

Launching the plan earlier, Minister Simon Coveney described it as "ambitious and far-reaching".

He said: "While the immediate priority is housing homeless families, many of whom are currently living in hotels, all aspects of the housing system are addressed within the plan."

"This means that young people looking to rent or buy, families looking to trade up or down, students who need good accommodation, older people, people with a disability and others are all encompassed within the plan and its 84 time-bound actions," he added.

He also said the use of hotels and B&Bs as emergency accomodation will be brought to an end by next year.