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€20m in funding for social housing
By Ruth Baily
The Government is to spend an additional €20m on the refurbishment and construction of social housing. This is in an effort to tackle part of the current housing problem.
This funding will go to help refurbish 1,800 social housing units currently vacant along with the construction of 1,000 new social housing units. These new homes will be built by a mixture of councils, voluntary housing bodies and regeneration schemes.
There are currently 90,000 families on the housing waiting lists. In this context, it seems extraordinary that 1,800 units could have been lying vacant. By building new homes and refurbishing existing units, construction activity will be generated. Where construction activity is generated there is a knock on benefit to the wider economy. Construction workers are re-employed, the social welfare bill reduced, the tax take increases and there is increased level of consumer spending.
Councils are spending emergency funding housing families in hotels, particularly in the Dublin region. It would be better value to refurbish vacant units and bring them back in to use to provide housing for families.
While this is good news, the supply shortage, which is at the heart of this problem, needs to be tackled immediately. This year a maximum of 10,000 units will be completed nationally with 2,000 of those in Dublin. This will not satisfy current demand and is following three successive years of low completions.
This has resulted in double digit prices rises in the sales market and rising rents. Until the barriers to building are meaningfully tackled, prices will continue to rise with all sectors of the market affected.