AKC News // Increasing Affordable Housing Supply

Publication of the report "Increasing Affordable Housing Supply"

Mr Batt O'Keeffe TD, The, Minister for Housing, Urban Renewal and Developing Areas today (25th April 2008) published a report of a study commissioned by the Affordable Homes Partnership (AHP) on Increasing Affordable Housing Supply.

The supply of affordable housing has consistently increased over the past few years from about 2,000 units in 2004 to almost 3,600 units last year. The National Development Plan and the social partnership agreement Towards 2016 envisages further growth over the coming years. To underpin these commitments, the Minister had asked the AHP to consider how the range of existing affordable housing mechanisms might be improved or expanded by new initiatives to increase supply, accelerate delivery, improve access and affordability and deliver value for money for any associated resources required.

The resultant report contains the recommendations relating to six main areas, as follows:

  • the strategic planning and management of delivery;
  • improving delivery through existing mechanisms;
  • the provision of a standard affordable housing product (shared equity);
  • removal of the time-limit on the clawback mechanism;
  • management of the stock of affordable housing; and,
  • involvement of the private financial institutions.

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    A number of the recommendations, particularly those relating to improving project management are already being implemented, but the report also recommends some new directions which the Minister considers should be subject to wider consultation. He has therefore launched this general consultation and will also be discussing the report with social partners and housing practitioners.

    The Minister commented that, "Delivering affordable housing in an effective way is an important priority of Government. The publication of this report allows us to take stock of progress to date, and decide on the best approaches for the future so that we can meet the housing needs in the most equitable and efficient manner". The Minister said that he considered it very important to offer the opportunity for interested parties to participate in this process. He said that "Before forming a definitive view on the response to this report, I believe it is necessary that interested parties have a say in what needs to be done."

    This consultation will take place up until May 31st and will involve consultations with the social partners, housing practitioners, financial institutions and the wider public. The advertisement placed in today's national newspapers will provide the opportunity for the public at large, representative organisations and interest groups to make submissions outlining their views and preferences on the recommendations made in the report.

    The full text of the report is available on the Internet at http://www.chr.ie/

    Click here to go directly to the report , a summary of the main recommendations follows below.

    Increasing Affordable Housing Supply
    Executive Summary - Recommendations

    Recommendation 1
    1.1 The DoEHLG should enhance the system for planning and managing the delivery of affordable housing to ensure that
    (a) Targets are clearly defined for all agencies in the process, based on realistic assessments of demand and capacity;
    (b) An implementation plan is put in place dealing with roles and responsibilities, timescales and delivery mechanisms;
    (c) Delivery is monitored, and managed, with appropriate actions taken as necessary; this should include clear incentives for local authorities to achieve delivery targets; and,
    (d) A database is established and maintained for monitoring purposes at a central level; this should capture not only details of households and properties involved in completed affordable home purchases, but also relevant indicators of need and demand, and also land supply and all other elements of the supply pipeline.

    1.2 In planning the general delivery of affordable housing, and also the design and marketing of specific schemes, every effort should be made to ensure that suitable products are available for all eligible households and that the type and discounted price are matched to households' income and needs.

    1.3 The DoEHLG should set up a monitoring system to provide a unique record of each affordable home and any subsequent resale.

    1.4 The AHP should be enabled to play the role of a single-purpose agency, focused on national delivery of affordable housing, working in partnership with and support for local authorities and other agencies. Specifically, the AHP should provide support and advice on affordable housing development for local authorities, working particularly closely with them to maximise the supply of land coming forward for affordable housing.

    Recommendation 2
    2.1 Retain the following delivery mechanisms: the 1999 Affordable Housing Scheme, Part V Affordable and the Affordable Housing Initiative, to be used with the new product explained below.

    2.2 Replace the Shared Ownership Scheme with a scheme based on the provision of an equity loan as explained below, as a means of utilising second-hand properties for affordable housing.

    2.3 Utilise the planning system in a more creative manner to support the delivery of affordable housing, such as in conjunction with the AHP’s “Call for Lands”.
    2.4 Consider the introduction of tax or other incentives for the provision of infrastructure where a significant deficit exists and is delaying the development of zoned land.

    2.5 Introduce and resource a project-management approach to the planning and delivery of individual affordable housing schemes.

    Recommendation 3
    3.1 All the current delivery mechanisms (Part V, AHI, 1999 Scheme) would remain in place, but applicants for affordable housing would be offered a standard shared equity product based on the relationship between income and house price with the range of acceptable house prices and types determined by the affordable housing provider.

    3.2 Introduce flexibility in the scheme so that purchasers can move from one affordable home to another when family circumstances change.

    3.3 Explore the possibility of including a mechanism to enable households to progressively increase their equity stake through enhanced regular payments.

    Recommendation 4
    4.1 Remove the time limit on clawback and recycle the repayment of subsidy provided as investment in new affordable housing.

    Recommendation 5
    5.1 Examine mechanisms for managing the affordable housing stock and making it available for second and subsequent purchasers.

    5.2 Consider the possibility of retaining some control over the status of affordable homes so that they can be purchased by other households on an affordable basis.

    Recommendation 6
    6.1 Examine opportunities for private developers and private investment to become involved in the provision of affordable housing.

    Date : 25-04-2008