From Declan Breathnach, TD 26th April 2016

454. To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government if he will establish a pilot scheme in the County Louth local authority area to examine the way in which vacant private houses could be usefully brought back as housing stock for families on the social housing lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8471/16]

From Minister Alan Kelly Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Through the Social Housing Strategy 2020I have put in place the necessary framework, targets and funding to increase the supply of social housing by 110,000 additional units by 2020. The Strategy has been supported by two successive budgets, with €1.7 billion allocated to social housing in 2015 and 2016. Under the Strategy, local authorities can acquire suitable private housing with funding support from my Department and this is an important component of social housing supply while the construction programme develops increased momentum.  In this regard, local authorities acquired over 1,000 units in 2015, 41 of which were acquired by Louth County Council. A full breakdown, by local authority, of social housing units acquired in 2015, is published on my Department’s website at the following link: .

Local authorities may also identify opportunities to acquire and remediate private properties where this can provide appropriate and value-for-money social housing units.  Louth County Council has already been given funding approval from my Department for such projects; those announced in January last are at the following link: .

In addition, the 2015 National Housing Development Surveyand the Annual Progress Reportillustrate that good progress is continuing to be made in resolving unfinished developments and the reactivation of sites is now evident throughout the country. The detailed findings of the annual surveys, annual progress reports and other useful publications and information in relation to Unfinished Housing Developments are available on the Housing Agency’s website at:.

Since 2010, an annual national housing survey of unfinished housing developments has been conducted during the summer months to monitor progress.  In that period, the number of unfinished housing developments has decreased by approximately three-quarters, from nearly 3,000in 2010 to 668 in 2015.

As can be seen, local authorities already have the means and support to acquire suitable private properties for social housing use and I am pleased to see, in particular, that Louth County Council is using such opportunities in their delivery of new social housing acquisition and construction projects.

In the broader context of the implementation of the Social Housing Strategy, my Department is open to working with local authorities, approved housing bodies and other stakeholders to develop innovative delivery models that represent good value for money and deliver good quality dwellings. The work streams and Project Board established for the implementation of the Strategy are best placed to examine new and innovative delivery solutions. Local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) are represented on these implementation groups.