Buy and Renewal Initiative
Minister Coveney is introducing a new funding scheme to support Councils and approved housing bodies (AHBs) to purchase and renew housing units in need of remediation, and make them available for social housing use.
There is real potential for Councils to buy houses and suitable premises in cities/towns where there is a need for social housing, to remediate them and make them available to those on the waiting list. Similarly, approved housing bodies may have an interest in this, particularly where they are seeking town centre locations for specific housing needs.
There is real challenge in this work: renewing vacant and derelict premises can be difficult and costly. Councils also target the provision of social housing where it is needed and will always have regard to sustaining a good ‘mixed tenure’ within communities.
While recognising these challenges, there is also great opportunity in this initiative. It can be part of the response that Councils make in tackling dereliction and improving streetscapes in urban areas/towns.
Councils and AHBs have been buying second hand housing in recent times to get ‘early delivery’ of new social housing units. This new initiative will allow them to focus on an area of acquisitions that avoids direct competition with private purchasers for good quality housing stock. It also taps into a potential supply of housing that may be sitting vacant.
This ‘Buy and Renewal Initiative’ will also be complementary to the new ‘Repair & Leasing Initiative’ that the Minister announced in Rebuilding Ireland. It will mean that Councils and AHBs can approach owners of vacant, privately-owned houses in need of repair/remediation, with the option to either lease/repair the housing unit, or to buy and repair/remediate the unit.
Louth County Council is already providing a good example of this work: they’re acquiring premises in Dundalk and Drogheda that are in need of repair/remediation and making them available for social housing.
The Minister will make an initial €25 million available for this initiative in 2017 and proposes to increase this to as much as €50 million in 2018.