The Government’s new ‘Housing for All’ plan outlines the measures which will be taken to ensure that Ireland’s housing system meets the needs of its citizens, at a time when the country requires an average of 33,000 homes to be built per year until 2030.
The much-anticipated Housing for All plan addresses many long-standing issues within the Irish housing system in order to provide greater accessibility to housing for buyers and renters, both in price, standard and location.
Housing for All: The Challenges
As it stands, the Irish housing system is not meeting the needs of Irish people:
- The supply of purchasable or rentable property in the private sector does not meet current demands.
- The number of houses that are being built by the State does not meet current social housing demands.
- The accessibility and affordability of housing presents huge challenges to prospective first-time buyers.
- Too many people have experienced homelessness who are unable to access appropriate housing.
- The costs associated with the construction of houses has become too high.
- There is a substantially excessive number of vacant housing stock that has not been used.
- Existing and future housing stock must be more environmentally friendly.
While several Government actions have been taken throughout the last year, including the extension and increase of the Help to Buy incentive, the banning of co-living spaces and the signing of the Lisbon Declaration, the Housing for All plan provides a more concrete strategy for addressing the aforementioned challenges.
Housing for All is supported with in excess of €20 billion in funding over the next five years and will achieve its objectives through four distinct pathways:
- Supporting Homeownership & Increasing Affordability
- Eradicating Homelessness, Increasing Social Housing Delivery & Supporting Social Inclusion
- Increasing New Housing Supply
- Addressing Vacancy & Efficient Use of Existing Stock
1. Supporting Homeownership & Increasing Affordability
This section of Housing for All concerns itself with granting greater accessibility and affordability to housing, with a particular focus on younger people who are seeking independent living.
- The supply of new housing will increase so that a minimum average of 33,000 homes will be built per year until 2030.
- 6,000 affordable homes, on average, will be made available each year for purchase or rent.
- A new Affordable Purchase Scheme, led by local authorities, will be launched.
- An affordable purchase, share-equity First Home scheme will be available for buyers of new build homes in private developments until 2025.
- Project Tosaigh, a new LDA initiative, will enhance the early delivery of new affordable homes.
- The LDA will also deliver significant numbers of homes on state lands in major mixed-tenure developments.
- The contribution by developers under Part V will increase from 10% to 20%, to include affordable housing and cost rental housing.
- Local authorities will launch a newly expanded Local Authority Home Loan.
- Rent Pressure Zone protections will continue through 2024, with rents linked to the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices.
- Indefinite tenures for rent leases will be introduced.
- ‘Cost Rental’ homes are to be introduced – which charge renters only the cost of developing, financing, managing and maintaining the homes.
2. Eradicating Homelessness, Increasing Social Housing Delivery & Supporting Social Inclusion
This Housing for All pathway sets out to address the very real homelessness crisis in Ireland, as well as addressing the needs of other vulnerable members of society including older people and those with disabilities.
- More than 10,000 social homes will be delivered each year, with an average of 9,500 new-build social housing homes to 2026.
- 1,200 tenancies will be provided throughout the next five years to cater to people with a history of rough sleeping, long-term use of emergency accommodation complex needs.
- Long-term leasing of social housing will end, by phasing out new entrants and focusing on new-build social homes.
- The Mortgage to Rent scheme will be strengthened to ensure it meets the needs of people in long-term mortgage arrears.
- The quality and quantity of Traveller-specific accommodation will be improved.
- Capital funding will be provided for housing of vulnerable members of society, including older people and those with disability.
3. Increasing New Housing Supply
This section of the Housing for All plan addresses the supply fallout, partially resulting from COVID-19 restrictions, and how 33,000 homes will be built per year to 2030.
- An annual average investment of in excess of €4 billion in housing through various Government bodies.
- More than 10,000 social homes, and 6,000 affordable homes will be available for purchase or rent each year.
- The State land bank is to provide more land to the Land Development Agency, to bring forward up to 15,000 homes, and the Government is to fund local authorities for land acquisition.
- There will be a focus on adequate supply of serviced zoned lands to meet housing need, at required density.
- Updated powers will be introduced to ensure sharing of the increase in land values resulting from zoning decisions, and more community gain.
- A new planning process will be introduced for large-scale residential developments, replacing the Strategic Housing Development process.
- Urban Development Zones will be established, providing a coordinated, plan-led approach to the delivery of residential and urban development.
- Planning legislation will be overhauled and simplified to ensure certainty and stability.
- A reform of the Judicial Review process will be brought forward, with the introduction of a new division of High Court for Planning and Environmental Cases, to reduce planning delays.
- A new tax is to be introduced which will activate vacant lands for residential purposes, replacing the Vacant Site Levy.
- A new fund, Croí Cónaithe, will be provided to address acute viability challenges in urban areas which curtail home ownership.
- Measures will be taken to increase skills and capacity in order to deliver an average 33,000 homes per year.
Approximately 40,000 workers are needed to deliver the current 20,000 homes per year, meaning an increase of 27,500 workers will be needed to hit the 33,000 homes target each year.
4. Addressing Vacancy and Efficient use of Existing Stock
The last pathway of the Housing for All plan relates to maximising the use of existing stock, making sure that existing vacant houses and apartments are used and ensuring a greater vibrancy in cities, towns and villages.
- A Croí Cónaithe fund will service sites for new homes in regional towns and villages to support the refurbishment of vacant houses.
- Public infrastructure agencies and local communities will support in providing these serviced sites for housing, helping to attract people to build their own homes and live in small towns and villages.
- Energy retrofit supports will be implemented to refurbish older vacant stock.
- Support will be provided to local authorities to purchase and resell up to 2,500 identified vacant properties in their areas, with Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) powers used when necessary.
- The Fair Deal scheme will be reformed to incentivise people in long-term care to rent or sell their property.
- New controls will be established on short-term lettings.
- Data will be collected on vacancy, with a view to introduce a new Vacant Property Tax.
- There will be planned management and maintenance of local authority housing stock.
- The refurbishment and extension of vacant properties in towns or villages will be incentivised, through the likes of energy retrofit supports and the Urban Regeneration Development Fund etc.
Enabling a Sustainable Housing System with Housing for All
In addition to the four pathways of the Housing Plan for All, the Government has stated its commitment to sustainable housing through the following steps:
- An investment of €4.5 billion will be made in water infrastructure, including to help to facilitate new home building.
- The cost of construction will be reduced through a coordinated Government approach to productivity in residential construction.
- Compliance will be embedded in the construction sector through Building Regulations and Building Control Regulations and assessment of building control structures.
- Delivery teams for local authorities will be strengthened to drive housing delivery.
- A Commission on Housing will be established, with a referendum held on housing.
The Bottom Line
Overall, the target the Government, through the Housing for All plan, has set out to achieve by 2030 is an over €4 billion investment in housing each year, equating to 300,000 homes in total.
This breakdown includes 90,000 social homes, 36,000 affordable purchase homes, 18,000 ‘cost rental’ homes, and 170,000 private homes as proposed by Housing for All.
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