Belfast Telegraph

20,000 new homes to be built over next four years

Some 20,000 new homes are to be built with funding from the state's "bad bank" over the next four years.

In an attempt to solve the housing and homeless crisis that has dogged the Government for well over a year, the target is to provide 90% of them in the Greater Dublin area where the emergency is greatest.

There was no announcement on how the coalition plans to tackle the deepening issues around rising rents, lease security or welfare supplements to keep 700 at-risk families in their homes.

The Peter McVerry Trust, which has warned more than 6,500 people could be homeless this winter unless drastic steps are taken, said it was disappointing that individual homeless men, women and children will see no tangible benefits.

Some 17 million euro extra has been set aside to fund emergency homeless accommodation - a total of 70 million euro.

But Pat Doyle, the charitable trust's chief executive, said: "Today's Budget will send a clear message to people in homelessness who would have been hoping for some additional support.

"They are simply not important to politicians, particularly in a year when a general election will be called."

Mr Doyle said the figures suggest ministers failed to grasp, or ignored, the extent of the homelessness crisis.

The housing plan being overseen by the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) aims to build 15,000 houses and 5,000 apartments.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly said the Budget package will ensure that more than 17,000 houses will be built next year, with 1,000 provided by local authorities.

Cluid, the largest housing association in Ireland, warned the Government was offering subsidies to landlords rather than quickly targeting social housing.

"And Nama will be required to provide social housing for only 10% of the new 20,000 units. This is a major missed opportunity to achieve a much-needed social dividend from Nama," spokesman Simon Brooke said.

Cluid called for 20% social housing by Nama and another 20% set aside with affordable rents to provide 8,000 affordable homes.

Noeleen Blackwell, of the Free Legal Advice Centre, said: "The Government seems to have recognised that insecure housing and homelessness are a problem, but it remains hard to discern a clear direction as to how it plans to really resolve the problem."

Meanwhile, the Government also announced where it would build 500 social houses on six sites, with two in Dublin City and the rest in south Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Louth.

Pat Davitt, of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers & Valuers, said the Nama plan was not remotely adequate to address the housing crisis.

"This is a mere 4,000 a year while demand is at 21,000 per year and will remain so for the next few years," he said.

"The market is dysfunctional and it's in crisis."


From Belfast Telegraph