1. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the impact the potential reclassification of approved housing bodies as general Government debt will have on Government housing policy and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52432/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Approved Housing Bodies)

Deputy Barry Cowen: We can see that local authorities are not building houses at the rate one would hope. In quarter 2 of 2017, 76% of completions were by approved housing bodies. Of the sites started at that time, 63% were by approved housing bodies. There appears to be an over-reliance on approved housing bodies. I know the question has been put to EUROSTAT, which is investigating the fact that these bodies and the funding associated with them are off-balance sheet. If that is proven to b...

2. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to introduce a scheme for genuinely affordable rental and purchase housing in 2018; and the funding allocated and targets for units to be delivered. (Question 52319/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Housing Policy)

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Thousands of working families and individuals are caught in an affordability trap whereby they can afford neither to rent nor to purchase a home. I have asked on a number of occasions for the Government to outline its definitions of affordable rental and affordable purchase; its targets in this regard for 2018; and the timeline for introducing an affordable housing scheme. Despite all the spin and announcements, we are still not getting answers to these very simple questio...

3. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the criteria used in the calculation of returned voids; the number returned in 2015, 2016 and to date in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52433/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Vacant Properties)

Deputy Barry Cowen: There is nothing more irritating for people than to see voids not being used. The Government has told us it is dealing with this issue by putting more people into such properties. It has provided certain numbers. What criteria are used when returned voids are being calculated? How many returned voids were there in 2015, 2016 and to date in 2017? I want to get a clear handle on that so I can appreciate whether what the Minister is saying is correct. There are contradicti...

4. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans with regard to the housing crisis (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52461/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Housing Policy)

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: It could be perceived that I possibly have a conflict with regard to the discussion on this question. The housing crisis and the associated problems are well known. We need to talk about solutions. How we can address these problems? What can we do on the ground to provide proper living facilities for people who are in crisis and are facing so much uncertainty in their living arrangements? I am dealing predominately with people who are on their own and need living u...

5. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his department’s expenditure on all rental supports (details supplied) for 2017; the projected expenditure on same for 2018, by rental support heading; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52462/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Rental Sector)

Deputy Catherine Murphy: I want to get information on the various housing support schemes, including the housing assistance payment, HAP, the rental accommodation scheme, RAS, and long-term leasing, to try and make sense of them for this year and next year. It would be useful to have projections into the future, because it would demonstrate whether or not this is a sustainable approach, even in the medium term.
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6. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to ensure no more deaths occur among homeless people and rough sleepers; and his plans to re-open a location (details supplied) or similar to ensure there are no more fatalities during the winter of 2017. (Question 52274/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Homeless Accommodation Provision)

Deputy Bríd Smith: Will the Minister outline his plans to ensure that no more deaths occur among homeless people and rough sleepers? Will he also outline plans to re-open locations similar to Apollo House that could ensure there are no more fatalities in any city throughout the rest of the winter?
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7. Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of households on local authority housing waiting lists at the end of November 2017, or October 2017 in the event November’s statistics are not available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52066/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists)

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: My question looks for an accurate figure for the number of people on waiting lists for local authority housing. At the rough end of that are the people described in Deputy Smith’s question but there are also issues related to construction and supply.
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8. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to the announcement by the Minister for Finance of the creation of Home Building Finance Ireland, HBFI, if his Department has engaged with the Department of Finance regarding HBFI; the role he envisages his Department playing with regard to HBFI; if he has satisfied himself that HBFI will bring the required funding into the area of residential development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52273/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Housing Provision)

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: As announced in budget 2018, my colleague, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Donohoe, intends to establish Home Building Finance Ireland, HBFI, to provide funding on market terms to viable residential development projects whose owners are experiencing difficulty in obtaining debt funding.
Officials from my Department have met with Department of Finance officials on the matter and will continue to engage with them as the enabling legislation ...

9. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the review of income eligibility limits for social housing will be complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52195/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Local Authority Housing Eligibility)

Deputy Brendan Smith: The Minister will recall that I have raised the issue of the need to increase the income eligibility limits for social housing with him on several occasions, as well as with his predecessor, the Tánaiste, Deputy Coveney, and with the Minister of State, Deputy English. My constituency of Cavan-Monaghan is in the lowest income limit band and the limit is far too low. I have previously cited in the House cases of people on family income supplement who have been denied the op...

10. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will report on the weekly actions he undertakes to put an end to child homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49916/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Homelessness Strategy)

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: It is approximately two and a half years since I made a complaint to the Ombudsman for Children, Mr. Niall Muldoon, about the conditions in which children were living in hotel rooms, guesthouses and emergency accommodation. I have also asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Katherine Zappone, what work is being done to address the longer term physical and mental health impacts of homelessness on children. The Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, told me...

11. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the way in which the increase in student accommodation is addressing the homelessness situation and the housing lists, particularly in Dublin. (Question 52064/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Student Accommodation)

Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: The question relates to student accommodation. I would like to know the correlation between the increase in student accommodation and how it is affecting or addressing the homelessness situation and housing lists, particularly in Dublin.
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12. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the initiatives planned in 2018 to increase the number of homes available for persons saving for a housing deposit that wish to purchase a home but that are presently unable to afford to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52264/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Social and Affordable Housing)

Deputy Aindrias Moynihan: I ask this question on behalf of the many people who are caught in the middle. They are not eligible for social housing and they are unable to afford to buy a house. While they have good jobs and a household income of €40,000 to €70,000, they are still struggling to put together the money to buy a house because they are paying €1,300 for rent, child care and so on. They want to buy their own home. They have seen all the different plans but they need to see bricks an...

13. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of expected new housing starts anticipated by the end of 2017; the number of such houses for families on local authority housing waiting lists; the extent to which he expects the lists to improve over the next12 months; the extent to which the problem of homelessness can be dealt with within that period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52279/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Housing Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The housing activity reports, which are available on my Department’s website, show that 19,246 new homes were granted planning permission in the 12 months to end-June 2017, an increase of 49% over the same period last year.  Commencement notices are up by 37%, with notices for 17,151 new homes nationwide submitted in the year to end- October. Moreover, there were 9,441 housing guarantee registrations (an indicator of mul...

14. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when he plans to publish the review of the tenant incremental purchase scheme; the changes he plans to make to the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52200/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Tenant Purchase Scheme Review)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme came into operation on 1 January 2016.  The Scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the Scheme. To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum and having been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.
In line with...

15. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of real social houses delivered to date in 2017 by scheme including council new build, council acquisition, council Part V, council returned void, AHB new build, AHB acquisition, AHB part V, and AHB returned void. (Question 52163/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Housing Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The 2017 target for the delivery of social housing under the categories listed in the Question is 4,450 units, including Local Authority Build, Acquisitions and Voids. Provisional  data to end Q3 2017 indicates that  just over 3,000 of these units had already been delivered.
When speaking in terms of “real social houses”, we must acknowledge other streams of social housing provision, including long-term leasing arrangem...

16. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of HAP tenancies created to date in 2017 throughout the country; the number of HAP tenancies created to date in 2017 in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52269/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Housing Assistance Payment Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a flexible and immediate housing support that is now available to all eligible households throughout the State. There are currently over 30,000 households in receipt of HAP and over 20,000 separate landlords and agents providing accommodation to households supported by the scheme.
An accelerated target of an additional 15,000 households to be supported by...

17. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the possible redesignation of approved housing bodies by EUROSTAT and the CSO; the contingency plans in place to deal with this in order to meet his social housing targets; and his further plans to assist approved housing bodies secure land in order to meet their social housing targets as per Rebuilding Ireland. (Question 52162/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Approved Housing Bodies)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is currently undertaking a review to determine whether the Approved Housing Body sector or part of it should be included as part of the General Government sector and whether AHBs should be classified as ‘on-balance sheet’ or ‘off-balance sheet’ for Government accounting purposes, in accordance with EU rules. 
Under a previous review of the sector in 2014, the...

18. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the way in which Rebuilding Ireland plans to address the commodification and financialisation of housing; and his view on whether the reliance on acquisitions and leasing from the private market to supply a significant share of social housing will continue this trend. (Question 52063/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Housing Policy)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Rebuilding Ireland has put in place the funding required to substantially accelerate the delivery of social housing. I recently secured a further €500m for additional capital investment in the period to 2021, which means that I have been able to increase the overall target for social housing delivery from 47,000 homes to 50,000, supported by over  €6 billion in funding.
Delivery will be achieved using a blended approach,...

19. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the position regarding a previous commitment (details supplied) to implement emergency measures to rehouse home owners affected by the defective blocks issue that are concerned for their own and families’ safety; his plans to address the issue of affected home owners having a mortgage when determining eligibility for social housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52069/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Defective Building Materials)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): The commitment given to the homeowners referred to was in respect of the actions being taken by my Department to implement the recommendations of the report of the expert panel established to investigate the problems that have emerged in the concrete blockwork of certain dwellings in Donegal and Mayo. My Department, in particular, is prioritising the implementation of recommendations 1 and 2 o...

20. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the action that will be taken to reduce the number of stages of approval that local authority housing schemes must go through within his Department. (Question 52072/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Local Authority Housing Provision)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): Social housing projects funded by my Department, like all publicly funded construction projects, must comply with the Government’s Capital Works Management Framework, the objectives of which are to ensure greater cost certainty, better value for money and financial accountability. There are nine stages under the  Capital Works Management Framework, which my Department has streamlined to just fo...

21. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the criteria he plans to establish regarding affordability in local infrastructure housing activation fund, LIHAF, funded developments and on publicly owned land; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52267/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The Government acknowledges the affordability pressures faced by households with low to moderate incomes, particularly in parts of the country where the demand-supply imbalance is resulting in increasing house prices and rent inflation. It is precisely for that reason that Rebuilding Ireland has prioritised the supply of new homes to meet current and pent-up demand as well as helping to moderate house prices and rents. 
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22. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of properties acquired by the 31 local authorities to date in 2017; the number that are vacant at present; the average vacancy time for local authority acquisitions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52272/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Local Authority Housing Provision)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Through the supports made available under Rebuilding Ireland, funding is available to all local authorities to deliver additional social housing stock through new construction projects and through the acquisition of new and previously owned houses/apartments for social housing use, including through working with approved housing bodies. 
Details on the number of properties purchased by all local authority areas, for lett...

23. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to bring forward changes to the law on ending a tenancy or increasing rent on the grounds of refurbishment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52257/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Private Rented Accommodation)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I have recently announced a series of measures in relation to the rental sector, including a two-year change plan to develop and strengthen the role of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) as a pro-active regulator for the sector.  
Following on from this and addressing calls from both landlords and tenants for further clarity in relation to the definition of “substantial refurbishment”, the RTB published on 23 November...

24. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if plans have been drawn up or considered to reinstate certain former borough and town councils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52276/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Local Government Reform)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): The Programme for a Partnership Government sets out a number of requirements in relation to local government reform. This involves the submission of a report to Government and the Oireachtas on potential measures to boost local government leadership and accountability, and to ensure that local government funding, structures and responsibilities strengthen local democracy. 
The Programme also ...

25. Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to introduce a pilot scheme using the cost rental model developed by an organisation (details supplied) on one or more of the sites owned by local authorities in consultation with the relevant local authority and local residents groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52067/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Social and Affordable Housing Provision)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Reports such as the one produced by the organisation concerned are an important addition to the debate on housing in Ireland. I note that there is considerable common ground and consensus between this Report and the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness and the Strategy for the Rental Sector. 
As part of the review of Rebuilding Ireland, my Department has examined housing affordability ...