Allocation of funding and targets for 2017 which will see a minimum of 1,400 void and vacant social housing units returned to productive use at a cost of €24m.
Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Simon Coveney, T.D., has today, 5 May, 2017 announced the allocation of funding of over €24 million for the return of over 1,400 vacant local authority properties to productive use this year.
The move is a continuation of the Government’s commitment under the Social Housing Strategy to deliver 47,000 housing units by 2021 at a cost of €5.35 billion.
Minister Coveney said “Under the Government’s Social Housing Strategy 2020, and reaffirmed under Pillar 2 ofRebuilding Ireland, my Department is committed to supporting local authorities in carrying out work that both improves the national housing stock and ensures that existing social housing stock is used efficiently. This announcement today will bring another 1,400 housing units back into use in a timely manner for homeless households and families on housing waiting lists.
Feedback from local authorities in respect of this programme is very positive. Since the introduction of the programme in 2014 valuable assistance has been provided to local authorities in dealing with vacant units and significant progress has been made in tackling the backlog. These measures will also greatly assist local authorities in achieving quick turnaround and re-letting times for such units.
Going forward funding will be linked to local authorities putting in place ongoing maintenance programmes to address the issue of vacant properties. These measures will mean that there will not be a high number of vacant units, and local authorities will be continued to be supported in the remediation of any such vacant units that do occur.
I’m happy to be able to continue the vacant property programme and to support the local authorities in the provision of funding for these very worthwhile and important schemes for local authority tenants” concluded the Minister.
Since its introduction in 2014 the Department’s Vacant Properties (Voids) Programme has provided approximately €85million of funding which has result in over 7,200 properties being return to productive use. A key priority of this scheme is to rehouse homeless families to the fullest extent possible in homes that have been restored to an energy efficient condition.
The Vacant Properties programme applies to both short and long term vacant units nationwide and is being allocated, as it was in 2014 and 2015, on an equitable and evidence-based system. The energy efficiency works on the Vacant Property Programme has secured ERDF funding as part of the EU Operational Programme 2014-2020 and will see EU co-financing of 50% of eligible public investment under these programmes.
The Allocation Process for Vacant Properties.
The programme applies to both short and long term vacant units nationwide and is being allocated, as in the previous 3 years, on an equitable and evidence-based system, adjudicated and weighted based on the priorities submitted by local authorities, the current numbers of vacant units and the cost effectiveness of the proposal. Funding will be linked to local authorities putting in place on-going maintenance programmes to address the issue of vacant properties.
The Department requested all local authorities to submit a prioritised list of Voids for remediating under this programme. The maximum funding of €30,000 per dwelling is being applied in 2017 as was done in 2014 – 2016. In remediating these units for re-letting, there is a particular focus on making them energy efficient. The Department also applies cost thresholds for individual elements of the remediation work to control costs. The result is that while an upper limit of €30,000 per Void unit applies, the average cost per unit was over €11,000 in 2014 and over €12,000 in 2015 & 2016. The average cost per unit has increased over time as the less complex and lower cost units were largely addressed in the 2014 programme.
Efficiencies are also achieved in procurement of contractors by working with the Local Government Operation Procurement Centre but additionally, local authorities are also encouraged to use the services of Community Based Organisations who recruit, train and engage long-term unemployed people to carry out the necessary works within their local areas. Funding under the scheme is based on evidence of the work done and confirmation that no previous public funding has been received in recent years for similar works for the property. It is also be a requirement that photographic evidence (before/after) be available and details of energy savings (post-works BER at minimum) are provided by the local authorities when submitting their claims.
As part of the EU Operational Programme 2014-2020, the energy efficiency works on the Voids programme will attract funding under the ERDF. The Regional Assemblies have created a ‘Social Housing Retrofit Programme’ within their Operational Programmes to accommodate support for the social housing Voids and Energy Efficiency programmes. This will see EU co-financing of 50% of eligible public investment under these programmes.
Local authorities will be asked to give priority consideration to making the refurbished homes available for letting to homeless families.
Appendix: Proposed Allocations – Vacant Properties