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and adopts a shared service approach across South Dublin County Council, Fingal County Council and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

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Priority Recommendations from the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness

Jun 17, 2016

Priority Recommendations from the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness (report released today 17th June)

 

  1. Increase the social housing stock (owned by local authorities and approved housing bodies) by at least 50,000 units (an annual average of 10,000 per year) through a programme of acquisition, refurbishment and new build.
  2. Reduce the Part 8 planning process from 8 to 6 weeks. Where there are unreasonable delays beyond the 6 weeks, emergency powers (such as the statutory provisions of section 179 of the Planning and Development Act) should be invoked. Also, encourage greater use of Part 8 for AHBs where appropriate as it is for local authorities for a period of 18 months.
  3. The Minister should consider the establishment of a Housing Procurement Agency with staff from the Housing Agency, NTMA, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, and the Department of Finance to assist local authorities and approved housing bodies to deliver their social housing programme through supports including funding and procurement.
  4. Introduce a system of rent certainty by linking rent reviews to an index such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and review annually.
  5. Increase security of tenure and protection from evictions for tenants by:
  • Introducing a scheme whereby a housing association or local authority can purchase a rental property from an existing investor (Rent switch programme).
  • Increasing security of tenure from the current 4 year period.
  • Establishing legal safeguards to allow tenants to remain in situ during and after sale of property.

6.    Amend the Residential Tenancies Act to outlaw the sale of property as grounds for evicting a tenant, except in exceptional circumstances where severe financial hardship can be proven by the landlord.

7.    The Government should, at a minimum, before the summer Recess and as a matter of urgency, fully and quickly implement the programme for Government’s strategy to deal with mortgage arrears.

8.    Subject to advice of the Attorney General, the Government should introduce legislation for a moratorium on home repossessions until such time as the Government’s proposals are in place.

9.    Increase the use of long-term solutions to mortgage distress, including Mortgage-to-Rent (MTR), split mortgages, debt writedowns and downsizing.

10.  The Government should urgently seek flexibility from the European Commission on the application of the EU fiscal rules to the financing of social housing.

11.  The Government should provide the maximum possible direct Exchequer investment in the provision of social housing in the Capital Programme.

12.  The Government should establish an off-balance sheet funding mechanism to provide additional investment in social and affordable housing.

13.  The Government should seek to mobilise as quickly as possible, all possible sources of funding, including funding from the Housing Finance Agency, Strategic Investment Fund, the Irish League of Credit Unions and Irish Pension Funds, to increase the supply of social and affordable housing.

14.   Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payments should be increased to reflect current market rates, and appropriate legislative safeguards should be put in place to ensure rent certainty.

15.   Amend the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009 (S.2 and S.10) to allow NAMA to be an agent for the provision of social housing.

16.   NAMA should use its cash reserves to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis.

17.   Reinstate the policy of ring-fencing 50% of local authority allocations to the priority list in Dublin and other areas where homelessness is acute. The policy should be reviewed every six months and should ensure that the needs of long-term homeless people are met.

18.   Ensure that no homeless shelters are closed until alternative accommodation is available elsewhere.

19.   Housing First should be significantly expanded and prioritise the long-term homeless.

20.   There should be increased resourcing for and improved coordination between HSE mental health services and homeless service providers to ensure that the needs of people with mental health issues are met within the homeless system.

 

Full report here