Thursday, 23rd November 2017
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ICSH Responds to Summit’s New Housing Activation Measures –

Welcoming Minister Eoghan Murphy’s announcement of an increase in direct build social housing, Dr Donal McManus, Chief Executive of the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) stated that housing

associations are ready to use their housing management experience and access to finance to help deliver an expanded social housing programme with local authorities using public lands.

Recognising that a whole of Government response is needed to address homelessness, the ICSH has responded favourably to a series of interagency commitments by Minister Murphy. Commenting further on a commitment to 20,000 new social housing homes built directly by local authorities and housing associations over the lifetime of the current capital plan, Dr. McManus said “Currently, we have multiple schemes delivering social housing on small sites. This is insufficient. There is almost 2,000 hectares of public land and local authorities need to contact our member housing associations directly to develop all feasible sites. Our sector is large and flexible, with members working throughout the country managing from 6,000 housing units to small community-based associations of less than 10 homes with capacity to grow. Robust mixed tenure models with a conditionality that a significant percentage of social and affordable rental housing are provided should be determined locally within each development and we can then work at scale with local authorities to deliver at least 20-30% of housing in 100+ unit developments. But in order to do this, the Government needs to lead with managing a land supply programme with the housing association role fully integrated in local authority housing targets. We look forward to working with Minister of State English and the new delivery team in achieving these results”.

Dr. McManus also spoke of his meeting with Minister Murphy in advance of today’s summit. “The capacity of our sector to deliver social housing and manage it well is one of the messages I conveyed to the Minister when I met him yesterday. Housing association activity has increased dramatically in recent years with almost 5,000 homes in active progress including construction and redevelopment of vacant property. In addition, non-profit housing associations have the capacity to use their skills to provide affordable and cost rental housing for wider incomes and this can be piggy-backed onto existing social housing developments to create mixed tenure developments”.

Dr McManus says a radical departure from existing policy and practice is needed to ensure that 20% of overall housing stock - a European norm - is in permanent social housing over a medium to long-term timeframe. “We need to seriously consider what Justice John Kenny proposed 45 years ago, that lands be acquired by local authorities at existing use value plus 25%. That, in addition to the use of the property tax for housing that has been vacant for more than one year, alongside a reinvigorated repair-and-lease campaign can yield results in the medium to long-term.”

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