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‘We’re 18 months ahead of schedule on social housing provision’, says Louth CoCo

County Hall
County Hall, Dundalk. Photo Credit: Adrian Crawley.

Louth County Council say that have reached their target of social housing provisions under Rebuilding Ireland’s accelerated social housing plan – eighteen months ahead of schedule.

The local authorities’ Director of Services for Housing Aoife Lawler made the claim at Tuesday’s meeting of the Dundalk Municipal District at the An Táin Arts Theatre, following a query from Sinn Féin councillor Edel Corrigan about whether or not targets had been delayed by Covid-19 restrictions and whether that would impact on the council’s ability to provide social housing this year.

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As part of the programme, Louth County Council was set a target of delivering 1,074 social housing units between 2018 and 2021. The provisions would include new build units, large scale acquisitions and long term leases, as well as Repair and Lease and Buy & Renew acquisitions.

Ms Lawler confirmed that in July this year Louth County Council reached the target figure of 1,074 and said they will exceed that number by hundreds by the end of 2021.

“In July, we reached out target for the four years – eighteen months ahead of the four year period,” she said. “We have a strong pipeline ahead and we will exceed that target by hundreds of homes.”

The comments come despite the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government confirming in May that the council had reached only 82% of their 2019 target of 520. The local authority delivered 428 of that target last year – comprising of 354 builds, 31 acquisitions and 43 leases. Only four local authorities in the country (Clare, Dublin city, Westmeath and Wexford) had lower delivery percentages for 2019.

Among the recent new social developments that have tenants on-site are Ravel in Dunleer and Green Gates Manor in Haynestown, Dundalk. The latter development includes 44 homes that were acquired for social housing units. Contractors remain on site at Wadman Park in Haynestown and phase two of Cox’s Demesne in Dundalk, as well as at Gort Bui on the Ballymakenny Road in Drogheda.

“For acquisitions, we have a very strong pipeline,” Ms Lawlor said, adding that the targets issued to local authorities were split into three categories – new builds, leasing and acquisitions. She said after ending a funding stream for acquisitions late last year, the government reopened acquisitions in July of this year.

“Because of the lockdown, the money that was put aside for construction wouldn’t be spent this year,” she said. “They started again with an attempt to meet the full target in a much shorter period of time. We have a number of acquisitions. Depending on the decision made by government – if they continue with acquisitions, we’ll meet that (acquisitions) target. If they stop it, we won’t.

Ms Lawler confirmed that the issues relating to the Enhanced Leasing Scheme was causing delays in the provision of such property types. “Leasing is slow to get off the ground but our pipeline is strong.”

There remains 1,829 on the social housing waiting list in county Louth – 365 in Ardee and mid-Louth, 752 in Dundalk and 712 in Drogheda – with a further 3,218 awaiting transfer from the Housing Assistance Payment scheme.

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