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  • Northside East

Govt department responds to local scheme criticism

Wednesday, 15th May, 2019 1:00pm
Govt department  responds to local scheme criticism
Govt department  responds to local scheme criticism

THE Department of Housing has responded to criticism from a local councillor over affordable housing. 

Cllr Alison Gilliland (Lab) attended a Dublin City Council meeting to consider a Scheme of Priority for affordable housing. 

Cllr Gilliland claimed it was very clear from the meeting that Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, is “not serious about enabling Dublin City Council, or any other local authority to provide an affordable housing scheme”.

“A directive from the Minister requires local authorities to formally adopt the Scheme of Priority for Affordable Dwelling Purchase Arrangements by June 18 - less than four weeks after the local elections,” said Cllr Gilliland.  

“The Special Housing Strategic Policy Committee Meeting discussed the various priorities and the recommendations. 

“However, upon their return from the Minister they must be formally adopted by a brand new council whose composition is presently unknown and who no doubt will want a voice in the scheme.”

Cllr Gilliland argued that the Scheme of Priority is only one part of the overall proposal.

“No eligibility criteria have been published, no financial details,” she said. 

“Dublin City Council has several sites earmarked for affordable housing but is now in danger of not being able to offer these units as affordable due to the Minister’s foot dragging. 

“Affordable housing is one of the key issues on the doors as I go around canvassing in the Artane/Whitehall area.

“It is imperative that all the details of this scheme are provided immediately to enable proper consultation with local authorities so we can get this scheme up and running.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government said all previous affordable housing schemes were stood down in 2011 due to the economic crisis at the time. 

“In recent years, however, Government has been clear that the provision of affordable housing is again necessary,” said the spokesperson. 

“In order to underpin the development of an affordable purchase scheme, the Minister commenced Part 5 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009 on June 18, 2018, the effect of which was to put in place new legislative provisions for affordable dwelling purchase arrangements. 

“Specifically to support the provision of affordable housing the Government has made grant funding of €310 million available to local authorities through the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF). A second call for SSF project proposals was issued to local authorities in April of this year.”

The spokesperson said legislation underpinning the affordable purchase scheme requires that each local authority develop a Scheme of Priority no later than one year after commencement of Part 5 (June 18, 2019),

“Local authorities were contacted in March 2019 and asked to have this process completed by this date,” said the spokesperson.

On April 17, the Department hosted a workshop to brief and engage with housing authorities regarding their preparation of a Scheme of Priority and to map out next steps regarding development of the affordable purchase programme more generally.  

“This will include the development of further regulations and guidance in other areas to support local authorities in their operation and administration of the scheme e.g. term of mortgage/determination of purchase price etc,” added the spokesperson.  

“This work will be completed before local authority housing units come on stream under the affordable purchase scheme.  The Department will continue to engage closely with local authorities in this regard.” 

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