The government’s own target for building social housing has entered the realm of make-believe, with the admission today by the head of the State’s Housing Agency that a key deadline will not be met, Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy TD has said.

Deputy Murphy made her comments following remarks by Mr John O’Connor in an interview with Pat Kenny on Newstalk radio today. Mr Kenny put it to Mr O’Connor, the chief executive of the Housing Agency, that the government’s target in the Rebuilding Ireland plan to provide 47,000 social housing units by 2021 seems like pie in the sky based on progress so far.

In reply, Mr O’Connor said: “It may take a number of additional years to achieve that. We went from a situation where the housing construction had stopped and local authorities and the voluntary housing organisations now are increasing but yes it will take time to just get up the level of supply that we need.”

Deputy Murphy said:

“I welcome Mr O’Connor’s candour on this topic – at least he is prepared to admit that the government’s targets for social housing builds will not be met by its own deadline of 2021.

“However, it is very troubling that the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy continues with his message of ‘keep calm and carry on’ in the face of the real-world evidence that the targets in the Rebuilding Ireland are in the realm of make-believe.

“Today we learned from figures on the Department of Housing’s website that local authorities built just 161 social housing units in the first nine months of last year. That contrasts with more than 90,000 applicants officially recorded as waiting for accommodation on social authority housing waiting lists.

“The homeless crisis is a national emergency and the only way to solve it is to build homes – if targets are to be met we need to scale up the rate of build significantly and that means moving to war-effort footing. The reliance on the market to deliver homes does not work and the Minister for Housing needs to get real about this. The Social Democrats want to see a dedicated Housing Delivery Agency to directly contract builders across different local authority areas – this kind of powerful agency could drive and oversee mass construction on the scale needed.


29 August 2017

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