Sixy-six social houses built in Waterford over 18 months

A total of 66 social houses were built by Waterford City & County Council between January 2016 and June 2017: a tally which exceeds the combined build totals in Kilkenny, Tipperary and Carlow in the same period.
The figures, compiled by housing analyst and architect Mel Reynolds, were revealed in the November 15th edition of The Irish Times, and show that less than one per cent of the State’s social housing requirement was built over the studied period.

While the recorded builds in Waterford make for grim reading in the context of the overall demand, those finishes were almost on par with the 67 builds recorded under Wexford County Council’s watch.
In the surveyed period, Kilkenny County Council provided 28 houses, Tipperary (north and south) 20, with 11 houses provided over 18 months by the local authority in Carlow.
In total, the five local authorities provided a total of 192 new houses over those 18 months, with the combined household waiting list total in the South East coming to 14,056.
Mr Reynolds told reporter Kitty Holland that he’d undertaken his study to “cut through the noise coming from the Department of Housing”.

The housing completion figures were provided to Mr Reynolds by the Department of Housing, whom also drew from on the Department’s latest social housing assessment list, in addition to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) transfer list.
“This is not just one or two councils underperforming in the last few months,” he stated. “This is consistent, across the board, widespread and long-term. There is almost nothing happening in social housing. It seems we are in a mad situation where the strategy is not to build local authorities all across the country.”
Meanwhile, the 8.5 per cent increase in rent recorded in Waterford over the past year, as revealed by the latest Rental Report, is a source of concern to Focus Ireland’s Waterford Manager.
Reacting to the report, which put the average monthly rent between July and September (Q3) in Waterford at €797 in the city (and €760 in the county, a 9.9 per cent increase on the same quarter last year), David Niblock said the increase in rent, combined with the shortage of supply, were very worrying.
“The Daft report clearly show that actions the Government has taken – such as Rent Pressure Zones – have not been implemented effectively,” he stated.

“Rents nationwide have now reached an all-time record average of €1200. While the Rent Pressure Zones have helped curtail rent increases for some sitting tenants there are so many loopholes in the legislation it is still far too easy for landlords to ignore.”
The “most alarmingly category impacted locally”, said Mr Niblock, are one-bed apartments in Waterford city centre which are now renting, on average, for €603, some 11.3 per cent higher than the same time last year.
Meanwhile, as a Focus Ireland statement referenced: “The cost of renting a one bed outside of the city isn’t far behind, at €513 or 10.5 per cent higher than the same time in 2016. For families in the city, four-bed homes now rent for an average of €885 or 8.4 per cent higher than in 2016.”
And David Niblock was singing from a different hymn sheet than Daft Report author Ronan Lyons when it came to rent controls.

“The report is correct, arguing that the long-term solution is more housing supply, and that rent controls only tackle the symptoms, not the causes,” he continued.
“However, there are some symptoms which you need to get under control so that the patient can survive and then recover. Massive rent increases are like a fever that needs to be controlled if we are not to see thousands of families, including those on decent wages, forced out of their homes. Rent Pressure Zones are failing not because they are a bad idea, but because of the failure of effective implementation.”
The full review of the ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ document, which was due to be concluded in September, will now not be published, much to David Niblock’s disappointment.

Instead, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is set to make several announcements rather than publishing a full review of the Government’s strategy as had been originally anticipated.
“We’re calling on the Minister to publish the full review of Rebuilding Ireland,” said Mr Niblock.
“We need a coherent and comprehensive approach, not just a series of press statements, comments and leaks. The strategy must include immediate and effective actions to ease the rental crisis, boost building and also get more vacant homes back into the housing stock. It must include a clear strategy setting out how the Government will respond to the particular problems facing homeless families. The Government has been saying that Homeless Family Hubs are a ‘first response’ but it’s high time they let us know what the solution will be and when it will be delivered.

“This must be a key part in addressing the terrible crisis and would be far better use of time than some of the media spin the Government has attempted to try and play down the housing and homelessness crisis over the past few weeks…
“Our frontline staff here in Waterford are still dealing with people who have become homeless from the rental sector as rents have been hiked up and they can’t afford them. There needs to be a much wider range of Government actions taken to keep protecting tenants and keep them in their homes.”

Social Housing Builds
(January 2016- June 2017)

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