Social and Affordable Housing
Social and Affordable housing has recently been a topical issue with regard to the provision of these forms of housing in an inflated property market that Ireland has experienced over the last two decades. It is not until recently that these house prices have fallen with the current recession. This dissertation assesses the provision of social and affordable housing under changing legislation and policies to cater for the ever shifting property market. Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 represented the largest change in the provision of social and affordable housing in Ireland that changed the aims and objectives of these forms of housing. The reports that led to the introduction of this Act and the Governments response to them are analysed in detail in this dissertation.
The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate whether the aims and objectives of social and affordable housing in Ireland are being fulfilled. Government Policies, Schemes and Legislation are analysed to determine how social and affordable housing is to be provided. An investigation into housing provisions in other European Countries with similar housing policies to Ireland is assessed, to compare their housing systems to Ireland's and to determine how successful they are in comparison to social and affordable housing in Ireland. There is also a case study on Dublin City Council's housing department to demonstrate how social and affordable housing is provided and how successful the provision of these houses.
This dissertation was compiled from an extensive review of Literature in Ireland, analysing European comparisons and by conducting interviews with individuals from Dublin City Council to include a case study on the housing department in Dublin City Council.
This paper finds that, while a quality system to ISO 9000 might promote good management practice, it is a particularly intricate system of management which is unduly mechanistic. Both the system and registration would prove to be an unjustifiable financial burden for most building and quantity surveying practices. However, this paper also concedes that as the potential clients of the industry, such as in manufacturing and engineering, continually adopt the standard and as the concept of vendor assessment becomes a more stringent requirement,
many surveying practices will receive increased pressure to become registered. With this in mind it is concluded that ISO 9000 may become an unavoidable burden for many consultant building and quantity surveyors.
Students Name: Bryan Harley
Year of Submission: 2010
This dissertation will investigate into social and affordable housing to determine whether the aims and objectives of these forms of housing are being satisfied.
The process of investigation will determine what social and affordable housing is, what the government legislation and policies are to date, how other European countries provide similar forms of housing and establish how Dublin City Council's housing department provides social and affordable housing under the discussed legislation and policies.
This dissertation will summarise how effective the provision of social and affordable housing is in Ireland today, stating the benefits and inadequacies in the current situation. Finally this dissertation will recommend how the government should respond to the inadequacies found in this dissertation.
2. What is Social and Affordable Housing?
This chapter aims to determine what social and affordable housing is and to give the reader an insight into the background of social and affordable housing.
2.2 Social Housing: Definition
According to the Irish Council for Social Housing,
Social housing can be broadly defined as accommodation provided by a local authority or approved non-profit housing body for persons who are unable to provide accommodation from their own resources (Irish Council for Social Housing 2010).
2.3 Affordable Housing: Definition
As defined by Dublin City Council (2010),
Affordable Housing is a scheme whereby new homes are sold at a reduced price to people who cannot afford to buy a property on their own (Dublin City Council 2010).
2.4 History of Social Housing
The first instances of social and affordable housing can be tracked back to the mid 1800's, (Redmond and Norris 2005). During this time, there was widespread concern in Europe about the housing conditions of the low income population. This unrest led to the provision of state subsidised rental housing to the disadvantaged and low income groups. This form of housing is now known as social housing.
2.4.1 Local Authority Social Housing
In Ireland the Housing of the Working Classes Act (1890), was the first legislation to introduce the concept of the provision for social housing by local authorities. However, this Act introduced little change to the housing situation at the time. It was not until the 1919 Housing Act was introduced that there was any significant change in this area. This Act obliged the local authorities to build appropriate housing and to provide subsidies in areas where there was a need for housing. From the time of introduction of this Act, Ireland saw a substantial period of introductions and completions of social housing programmes. This period continued up until the 1950's. In 1966 a new Act (Housing Act, 1966) was introduced to modernise the country's outdated legal framework in relation to housing.
To date, Ireland has benefited from the introduction of 330,000 homes provided by local authorities under social housing initiatives. Currently, local authorities manage 108,000 homes under the bracket of social housing.
2.4.2 Approved Voluntary Housing Association Social Housing
As defined by the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) (2010), “Voluntary housing associations are non-profit organisations formed for the purpose of relieving housing need and the provision and management of housing”. The largest of the voluntary housing associations in Ireland at present is the Iveagh Trust.
The Iveagh Trust was set up in 1890 by Sir Edward Cecil Guinness, Earl of Iveagh. The purpose of this trust was to provide housing and other amenities to the working classes in Dublin. This was one of the first schemes of its kind to provide such assistance. Currently the Iveagh Trust manages 5 estates in Dublin City providing accommodation for the full range of social housing needs. The largest of these estates is on Bull Alley, Dublin 8.
The introduction of The Capital Assistance Scheme in 1984 has provided much needed assistance to these housing associations. This scheme, established by the Department of the Environment provided subsidies to various voluntary housing associations to assist in the supply of housing to those with disabilities, the elderly, the homeless, emigrants and small families. Due to this funding, voluntary housing associations have been able to grow and to provide more effective assistance.
During the mid to late 1990's voluntary housing associations struggled to provide housing due to the increasing land and building costs. According to the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) (2004), during the 1990's voluntary housing associations produced their lowest output of 285 units. At this time the number of people in need of housing was rapidly increasing. The Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, Mr Robert Molloy T.D., was then prompted to update and improve the schemes available to the voluntary housing agencies. This allowed them to again function effectively in their role to the communities. In 2003, the voluntary housing sector had a managed stock of over 16,000 dwellings (NESC 2004).
The ICSH has recognised the role that the voluntary housing agencies provide in Ireland and has ensured that they have been included in the following current government policy documents: National Development Plan 2007 – 2013 and Towards 2016, (ICSH 2010).
2.5 History of Affordable Housing
Affordable housing is a relatively recent initiative in Ireland with the Housing Act 1992 providing the first policies for affordable housing. This Act facilitated access to full ownership in two or more stages to those who cannot afford ownership by their own means. Under this Act the purchaser must initially purchase 40% of the property form a local authority and then organise to purchase the remainder with the local authority.
The Affordable Housing Scheme 1999 brought forward proposals by the social partnership to provide additional affordable housing on land that was already in the possession of the State and local authorities. As defined by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (2009), the Affordable Housing Scheme 1999 comprises developments built on local authority land and in some cases purchased turnkey developments.
It was not until the introduction of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 that affordable housing could be considered an effective form of providing housing to those who cannot afford to buy a property on their own. This Act provided an obligation for developers to transfer up to a maximum of 20% of land, units, sites, an equivalent financial contribution or other land or units off site to the local authority for the use to provide social and affordable housing. According to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (2009), in 2007 the provision set out in Part V for affordable housing accounted for 60% of the country wide provision of affordable housing.
The sixth social partnership agreement, Sustaining Progress 2003 – 2005, introduced the Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI). This initiative was responsible for providing 10,000 affordable homes on local authority and State land. This target has been increased in the current social partnership agreement, Towards 2016, to 17,000 affordable homes.
In 2005 the Irish Government established the Affordable Homes Partnership (AHP). The initial role of the AHP was to coordinate the delivery of affordable housing by the local authorities in the Greater Dublin Area. The role of AHP was extended in 2007 to coordinate affordable housing at a national level. During the period of 2006 – 2008 the AHP actually provided affordable housing direct to the applicant. The AHP was to take responsibility of the sites under the AHI and use this land to deliver affordable housing through land exchanges. According to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government 2009, only two land exchanges have taken place to date through the AHP.
Following this chapter the reader should have an understanding of social and affordable housing with knowledge of the origins of the two types of housing provision. This knowledge should prepare the reader for the following chapters and conclusion findings of the dissertation. The legislative background of these forms of housing will be explained in detail in chapter 3 (Government Policy and Legislation to Date), of this dissertation.
3. Government Policy and Legislation to Date
The following review provides information on the government policies that determine the aims and objectives in relation to the provision of social and affordable housing, demand and the legislative background of social and affordable housing in Ireland. It also examines the acts, reports and schemes in relation to social and affordable housing and details the circumstances that gave rise to the implementation of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000. This chapter also analyses Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the amendments made to it in 2002.
3.2 Government Policies that Influence Home Ownership and Prices
The Irish Housing Policy and influences on Home Ownership and Prices
3.2.1 The Irish Housing Policy
The aim of the Irish Housing Policy, as laid down by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (2009), is to “enable every household to have available an affordable dwelling of good quality, suited to its needs, in a good environment and as far as possible at the tenure of its choice”.
The Government's current statement on the Irish Housing Policy is contained in the report Delivering Homes Sustaining Communities. This document sets out what the Irish housing sector should aim to accomplish. It reiterates the commitments made in the National Development Plan 2007 - 2013 in relation to social and affordable housing that include:
* The building or acquisition of 27,000 new units of social housing between 2007 - 2013
* The building or acquisition of 63,000 social housing units from 2007-2013 through local authority, voluntary and co-operative housing and the Rental Accommodation Scheme
* Making local authority Housing Action Plans statutory documents to improve the delivery of housing
* Provision of 40,000 affordable housing units
* Implementation of new means of assessing housing need
* New guidance to replace Social Housing Design Guidelines
According to the Iris Council for Social Housing (2010),
The National Development Plan 2007-2013, Transforming Ireland reinforces the provisions for housing made in Towards 2016 but makes further commitments in relation to capital spending on housing and provides more long-term targets to be met in social and affordable housing provision. It allocates €21.2bn to housing over the course of the Plan which will benefit 140,000 households. In terms of social housing specifically, the Plan emphasises the need to promote social housing options and the continuation of the provision of special needs groups with 60,000 social housing units to be built or acquired over the course of the Plan.
3.2.2 Influences on Home Ownership and Prices
During the last two decades house prices have been increasing largely due to the demand by the young growing population that were looking to get into the property market. During this period interest rates on property and tax rates on property were particularly suited to home ownership.
April 1997 saw the abolishment of the taxation of residential property. After April 1997 stamp duty was the sole tax that one had to pay when dealing with the sale or purchase of a residential property.
The Government introduced mortgage interest relief as an incentive to encourage home ownership. Mortgage interest relief is available from the lender to the purchaser, once the owner can prove that the money has been solely used for the purpose to purchase a property. The reduction in mortgage repayments is catered for by the reduction of tax liability.
3.3 Demands for Irish Housing
According to Norris and Redmond (2005), there have been significant increases in the demand for housing in Ireland during the economic boom, caused by a combination of economic, demographic and social factors. As mentioned in 2.4.1, the Government's taxation policy was favourable to property investors, particularly during the period following the 1986 Urban Renewal Act which initiated Section 23 Tax Relief. The annual housing inflation rate in 1998 was at 22.5%. At the time, this rate of inflation showed no signs of slowing down. The First Bacon Report summarised in 2.4.1, estimated high levels of future demand for Irish housing. The Second Bacon Report pointed to rising rents in the private rented sector. Social rented housing output was not increasing and in 1999 the local authority assessment of housing needs showed that 39,716 households were registered on local authority waiting lists, an increase of 43% on the previous assessment of housing need, which was complied in 1996, Brooke (2006). The first affordable housing scheme was introduced in March 1999. This scheme provided only 40 affordable houses that year.
Part V of the Planning and Development Bill 1999 was structured to address these issues. The Minister for the Environment, Mr Noel Dempsey, stated that Part V addressed two major issues in the Irish Housing Policy that allowed people to purchase their own homes and also of the provision of social rented housing. According Mr Noel Dempsey (2000), Part V of the Bill, “introduces a major new dimension to planning legislation and contains the most radical and probably the most contentious provisions of the Bill”.
3.4 Most Notable Legislation in Relation to Irish Housing Provision
The following is an account of some of the legislation that is considered most important in relation to social and affordable housing.
3.4.1 Housing Act 1966
This Act modernised the legal framework for social housing in Ireland. It also included the provision for the tenant purchase scheme which allowed local authority tenants to purchase their houses from the local authority. Section 55 of this act relates to a house building programme which each local authority must adhere to in relation to the provision of housing.
The Act also includes new conditions in relation to the acquisition of land, provision of housing, unfit houses, overcrowding, scheme of letting priorities, compulsory purchases by local authorities and rent schemes.
3.4.2 Housing Act 1988
Part of this Act defined how homelessness would be interpreted in relation to the provision of housing. It allowed the provision of a subsidy to eligible persons against the loans which they had obtained for the purchase or construction of their house. It required local authorities to make an estimation of housing requirements within their functional area both at the present time and over a designated period of time.
3.4.3 Housing Act 1992
The Housing Act 1992 introduced the Shared Ownership Scheme, which allowed a housing authority to grant a shared ownership lease for a term of more than 20 years but not less than 100 years.
The Act also included provisions in relation to voluntary housing schemes, statements of policy on management of local authority dwellings and the counteraction of social segregation.
3.4.4 The Planning and Development Bill 1999
According to the House of the Oireachtas, the purpose of the Planning and Development Bill 1999 is:
To revise and consolidate the law relating to planning and development by repealing and re-enacting with amendments the local government (planning and development) acts, 1963 to 1999; to provide, in the interests of the common good, for proper planning and sustainable development including the provision of housing.
The Bill introduced the Affordable Housing Scheme that recommended local authorities to review and assess land that is in their own possession, with the aim to develop it, in partnership with developers to construct and integrate private, social and affordable housing.
The Bill also suggested the redevelopment of existing areas used for social housing, to provide the private, social and affordable housing mixes.
3.5 Circumstances That Gave Rise to Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000
The following sections of this dissertation review the contributing factors that gave rise to Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000. This includes a review of the Bacon Reports. These reports were commissioned from economic consultants, Peter Bacon & Associates by the Government in order to give an account of the housing situation in Ireland and to issue recommendations to improve the state of affairs going forward.
3.5.1 Bacon Report 1: An Economic Assessment of Recent House Price Developments
During the lead up to the publishing of the first Bacon Report, Ireland was experiencing a rapid increase in housing prices. During this period investors began to flex their muscles in the property market. As a result, the first time buyers suffered and began to find it increasingly difficult to enter the housing market. Traditionally, first time buyers bought properties towards the lower end of the property ladder. It was these properties that the investors were driven to secure with the aim to rent. The demand for these rental properties was further fuelled by the increase in numbers of immigrants entering the country that were not looking to buy properties but to rent properties. This increase in demand for property led a number of housing agencies to issue warnings that demand for housing would continue to increase and to inflate housing prices in the Irish market.
The first Bacon Report was published in 1998 and proposed interventions by the Government to help first time buyers who were at this stage struggling to get into the inflated property market. The report recommended that the Government should strive for a more acceptable rate of house price development and suggested four main areas to focus on for a policy response. These were to:
Achieve better balance between demand and supply in the short term, improve the potential supply of the housing, and engage in infrastructure developments and to improve medium and long term planning of the development of the east region. (Bacon, P and Mac Cabe, F. 1998)
The Bacon Report goes on to suggest a rebalancing of existing incentives in favour of the provision of housing at the lower end of the property market. The report highlights that the Revenue had overlooked the provision of incentives for providing affordable housing. The report suggests tax incentives as a method to increase availability and choice to first time buyers who were struggling to enter the property market. The removal of what was defined as Section 23 incentives for investors and the removal of mortgage interest relief against properties were suggested. A reduction of stamp duty on second hand homes was proposed to increase the scope of available affordable homes in the second hand market.
It also suggested a review of residential densities and investment in infrastructure as necessary to help maximise housing supply. The report went on to propose the idea of introducing an administrative control on housing prices. This idea was later discarded as it was thought that the control of house prices would have the potential to distort the property market.
3.5.2 Government Response to Bacon 1
The Government responded to Bacon 1 by decreasing stamp duty rates on second hand houses [from X% to X%] and also by investing in the improvement of the infrastructure to help realise the potential of development land. The Government imposed stamp duty on new houses bought by non owner occupiers. Tax relief for property investors on Section 23 properties was reviewed and the suitability of each property for relief is to be individually assessed subject to the Local Area Plan. Deductibility of interest on borrowings undertaken for investment in property was removed after April 23rd 1998. Action was also taken in the effort to bring down income limits for the shared ownership scheme to a level that was more relevant to the incomes at the time.
3.5.3 Bacon Report 2: The Housing Market, an Economic Review and Assessment
The Bacon Report 2 was published in 1999 after the Government responded to the first Bacon report. This report centres largely on the period directly after the first Bacon Report and observes the impact of the report by assessing the property market during this time. The report finds that house inflation had slowed since the Government's actions following the first Bacon Report. This slow down was particularly apparent in the market for new housing.
Following the first report, the Government removed the deductibility of interest on borrowings for investors while promoting liquidity in the second hand market by changing the structure of the stamp duty system. This report found that the reduction in interest rates at the time and the easing house price inflation should have made housing more affordable, but in fact affordability remained a serious problem. The report did warn that while a reduction in housing prices may solve the issue of affordability, negative equity would be serious by-product. The report made it clear to the Government that they had to centre on filling the void between the price of new houses and the price that was affordable for those who could not afford to buy a new house at the normal asking price.
The report put forward that the issue of housing densities should be reviewed, with the possible integration of terraced housing in new developments as a method of providing housing at a lower cost to the developer. The report did raise the issue of social isolation due to this form of housing.
The Bacon Report 2 introduced a concept to develop a scheme for the provision of affordable housing by local authorities and developers. This was the first instance that laid the foundations of the affordable homes scheme.
The need to strengthen the existing Planning Acts was also highlighted with the objective of modernising the Governments housing policy.
The concept of making housing more affordable and improving accessibility to mortgage funding would further increase demand for housing and therefore increase housing prices. As a result the report suggested to the Minister for the Environment and Local Government to invite proposals from agencies within the voluntary sector as to how they could be helped to develop and also how their resources could be applied in a more effective manner with the aim of providing extra housing for the sectors of the community most in need.
3.5.4 Government Response to Bacon 2
On the 9th of March 1999 the Government issued a report entitled, “Action on the Housing Market”. This report contained the Government's response to the second Bacon Report. It contained initiatives which aimed to “maximise and expedite housing supply, secure house price stabilisation, address affordability issues and ensure balanced growth of the property market in the future”, (Action on the Housing Market 1999). Their actions included placing temporary sewerage facilities on land in Dublin to enable the early release of 16,000 housing sites. Arrangements were made to identify infrastructural constraints in areas of growth which would reduce delay in housing provision. Draft guidelines for new housing densities were published. These included action on increasing the mix of affordable housing in new developments. An affordable housing scheme was launched shortly before the release of the government response. Through this scheme, local authorities would provide additional new houses on land available to them which would help lower income households to purchase their own homes. It was stated that the Department of the Environment and Local Government would invite proposals from the voluntary housing sector as to how to expand on the voluntary housing programme.
3.5.5 Bacon Report 3: The Housing Market in Ireland: An Economic Evaluation of Trends & Prospects
The third Bacon Report was released on the 6th of June 2000. The executive summary stated that “the rate of increase in housing prices, since the release of the first Bacon Report in 1998 had slowed down significantly”. House price completions had increased in each successive quarter in 1999. The average price of new houses was still beyond the reach of many average workers. The rate of economic growth at the time meant potential demand for an additional 8.000 to 10,000 residential units per annum. The requirement for increased supply in Dublin and the Middle East regions was stressed as increasingly important to control house prices due to the predicted increase in demand in that area.
3.5.6 Government Response to Bacon 3
The Government released a report entitled action on housing 2000 detailing measures which it would take to address housing needs and requirements, as outlined in the third Bacon Report. With regard to social and affordable housing, the Government stated that they would increase output of local authority housing that would start at 1,000 units per annum between 2001 and 2006. The Government also proposed measures that would aim to facilitate local authorities and voluntary bodies to acquire sufficient land that they could provide social and affordable housing.
3.5.7 Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000
Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 dealt with housing supply and it came into effect on 1 November 2000. The primary objective behind the introduction of Part V was to obtain land for housing purposes. However, the legislation also aimed to improve integration between different social groups by introducing social and affordable housing into private housing estates. The legislation has been the subject of controversy since its inception. Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 was resisted by both the Construction Industry Federation and the Home Builders Association. These two groups were the primary objectors of the legislation and claimed that:
Part V would result in a reduction in supply of new private housing, that will increase second hand prices and the buyers of new houses will subsidise the affordable and social housing being expropriated from the industry. (Norris, M 1999).
Part V of the Act did have supporters that described it as:
A landmark step that would modernise the planning system in Ireland, improve housing delivery and help reduce undue social segregation in new housing developments. It represents a community and planning gain or return against the windfall profits arising from the development of land (Brooke 2006).
Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 requires that
Housing strategies be drawn up by planning authorities and integrated into their development plans. Each housing strategy should have regard to the proper planning and sustainable development of an area and should be concerned with the overall supply of housing within the planning authority. In addition, the Act makes communities' needs for social and affordable housing a material planning consideration which must be taken account of in formulating development plan policies, preparing a housing strategy and deciding on planning applications or appeals. The Act places a statutory obligation on planning authorities to ensure that sufficient land is zoned for housing in their development plans to meet the projected housing requirements over the plan period and to ensure that an undue shortage will not arise”, (The Planning and Development Act 2000).
Most importantly, the Act empowers a local authority to attach a condition on a planning permission on land zoned as residential, a requirement for developers to supply up to 20% of the land for social and affordable housing. This requirement was set down in the Act with the objective to create all new residential developments that will have a proportion of social and affordable housing contained within them. The provision of social and affordable housing under Part V only applies to developments that are over 0.1 Hectares in size and contained more than 5 units.
Part V only applied to planning applications for permission on land zoned as residential use. This requirement was considered a major flaw as it allowed developers to avail of a “loop hole” to avoid the social and affordable housing requirements set out in Part V. This was particularly apparent on Co. Leithrim, where the town of Carrick-On-Shannon was the only area in the county where zoning provisions where present.
Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 was enacted on the 1st of November 2000. By the 31st of July 2001 all of the local authorities had amended their development plans and had completed new housing strategies that allowed for the new requirements contained in the Act.
3.5.8 The Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2002
This Act most notably allowed developers a greater choice with the provision of social and affordable housing. The Act enabled developers to provide land, sites or housing for the local authority as an alternative to providing social and affordable housing in each development. The alternatives did however have to be contained within the remit of that planning authority. The developer was allowed another alternative to this requirement under the Act, the developer is allowed to pay the local authority a sum of money equivalent in value to the transfer of the land.
This amendment of the Planning and Development Act 2000 is considered by many as a weakening or a cop out to the developers. One of the primary aims of the Housing Policy and original 2000 Act was to counteract social segregation but now this responsibility is effectively left in the hands of the developer.
3.6 Government Intervention in Irish Housing Provision
The following are the most important examples of Government interventions in relation to the Irish housing market.
3.6.1 Local Authority House Building Scheme
The 1966 Housing Act places an obligation on local authorities to provide housing for those who cannot afford appropriate housing for themselves. After the introduction of this Act, Ireland saw a huge increase in completion rates of social housing in Ireland.
Redmond, D. and Norris, M.(2005)state that 300,000 housing units have been provided to date, since the introduction of the Local Authority House Building Scheme in 1966.
3.6.2 House Purchase Loan Scheme
The House Purchase Loan Scheme was introduced for those who have had an unsuccessful loan application with a building society, bank or any other lending institution to build or to buy a residential property. This scheme gave a person an alternative option as to avail of a local authority loan. To receive this loan the applicant must not exceed an income of €40,000 as a single income household or €100,000 as a dual income household and must have been refused a loan by a bank or building society. This scheme has similarities to the Affordable Housing Scheme currently operated by local authorities today, where the local authorities provide housing at a reduced price with finance arranged with or by them.
3.6.3 Tenant Purchase Scheme
The Tenant Purchase Scheme was introduced under Section 90 of the 1966 Housing Act. Section 90 allowed a local authority to sell on a social house to the tenant. The Act also allowed a local authority to sell a vacant house to whomever they deemed suitable, once the prospective purchaser is in need of housing.
3.6.4 1999 Affordable Housing Scheme
The affordable housing scheme was introduced in March 1999. Under the 1999 affordable housing scheme, local authorities provide newly built houses at a discounted price on their own lands. This scheme enabled an applicant to purchase a house from a local authority at a reduced rate to the normal market price. The price of the house is subsidised by the Department of the Environment at €50,000 per house in the Dublin local authorities and all city councils and at €31,800 for all other local authorities. Finance for the purchase of these houses can be provided directly with the local authority or with another financial institution.
3.6.5 Affordable Housing Provided Under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000
As summarised in detail above in section 2.6.5, Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 empowers a local authority to obtain up to 20% of land zoned for residential use at a reduced rate from a developer to provide social and affordable housing.
3.6.6 Capital Assistance Scheme
According to the Department of the Environment (2010), the Capital Assistance Scheme enables voluntary housing bodies to provide accommodation to meet housing needs in specific cases, such as for people with disabilities, elderly, homelessness, emigrants or small families.
The approved voluntary housing bodies are then responsible for tenancy allocations in consultation with the appropriate local authorities. A minimum of 75% of the houses in each project are reserved for persons who are on the housing list and whose applications for local authority housing have been approved by the local authority.
The remaining houses in a particular project are to be let to people nominated by the voluntary housing body.
Rents are determined by the voluntary housing body after considering the tenant's situation and the cost of managing and maintaining the property.
3.6.7 Capital Loan and Subsidy Scheme
The Capital Loan and Subsidy Schemes enable voluntary bodies to have the appropriate funds to provide rental housing for low income families.
According to the Department of the Environment (2010), the Capital Loan and Subsidy Schemes enable voluntary housing bodies:
To provide housing for renting with particular emphases placed on the needs of low-income families. Not less than three-quarter of the dwelling units are let to households that have qualified for local authority housing. Rents are determined taking account of household earnings and circumstances. Tenants of the houses are centrally involved in the management of their estates.
On April 21st 2007 Frank Mc Donald the Environmental Editor for the Irish Times Newspaper wrote an article about social and affordable housing. This article was a summery of what was discussed at the Irish Planning Institutes annual conference. Property developer Mick Wallace stated that the government had backed down under pressure builders and developers in relation to the provision of social and affordable housing. Instead of being made to allocate the originally designated 20% for social and affordable housing, they were allowed to move their quotas around in order to maximise profits. According to Wallace a result of the amendments made in the 2002 Act and was causing Ghettoisation. Developers were also using lower quality materials to minimise costs in the provision of such housing, even in cases where social and affordable and private were mixed in the same developments.
Government policy has led to both a high owner occupier rate of housing in Ireland and also high house prices. The aims of the Irish Housing Policy has been greatly affected by government polices. Housing had become less affordable due to previous incentives which encouraged investment and speculation in the market. It was not until the 1990's when the issue of housing affordability arose. This led to the commission of the Bacon Reports on housing in Ireland.
The issue of social and affordable housing provision in Ireland became more important during the property boom due to rising prices. This looked to have been on its way to rectification in the Planning and Development Act 2000 which brought about a sense of coordination in housing provision. However the potential of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 as a mechanism for ensuring sustainable provision of Social and Affordable Housing without social segregation was greatly depleted with the introduction of the Amendment Act in 2002, which provided too many options for compliance by developers. In the current market downturn, affordable housing in its current guise has arguably lost importance in comparison to social housing due to values of all property falling. Therefore updated legislation in relation to Part V is necessary to rectify the current weakening housing policy.
4. European Comparisons
This chapter aims to give an overview of the social housing in three European counties, the Netherlands, Germany and Hungary. The background to social housing in each country is outlined and the legislation in relation to social housing in each country is summarised in this chapter.
The Netherlands, Germany and Hungary were chosen for the purpose of this report as they are European countries that's Governments treat housing as an element of social policy similar to Ireland.
4.2 The Netherlands
The most important recent policy in relation to Dutch public housing came about in 1989. This policy came through a report called “Dutch housing policy realigned” published by the then secretary of state for housing, E. Heerma. This report states the role of private initiatives as important to the role of housing associations. Increased financial independence of Housing Associations was laid down. The Guarantee Fund for Social Housing Construction and the Central Public Housing Fund were established as the main instruments to back up this policy. The Central Public Housing fund is a government agency to which all Dutch Housing Associations must pay a levy and the Guarantee Fund for Social Housing Construction is a private agency which guarantees housing associations loans. Restrictions on rental policy were also reduced.
According to Whitehead and Scanlon (2004), in most European Union countries housing associations can rely on government subsides for housing production. The Netherlands in 1995 abolished government subsidies for the provision of social housing. As a result the Dutch government has lost control of the behaviour of its housing associations and housing authorities, (van Bortel and Elsinga 2005). Social housing is now considered by some as a problem not a solution. In order to keep the higher income groups from leaving the city it is believed that social housing must be replaced by more expensive owner occupied dwellings. Housing associations in the Netherlands are permitted to buy and sell their dwellings. They buy form and also sell to households or landlords for various reasons, mainly with a view to improving their own financial position. The financial position of these associations is quite strong and the government may soon ask for contributions to the national housing allowance. There are currently approximately 500 housing associations in the Netherlands. These housing associations are managed by the Ministry of Housing. They must sign performance agreements with their local government including development of housing stock, allocation rules and neighbourhood liveability.
4.2.1 Dutch Housing Statistics
* Owner occupation rate is 54%
* Private rental accommodation accounts for 11%
* Social housing accounts for 35%
All percentages are of the total housing stock and are taken from the RICS.
In Germany, affordability was not a major issue during the 1990's due to the absence of the housing boom which was experienced in many other European Countries. The market is believed to be in a state of almost equilibrium. Between the years 19996 and 2006 the average house price in Germany decreased by 14% compared to a 188% increase in Ireland for the same period (RICS). This was due to very generous tax incentives offered to investors in the early days of post unification. In June 1991, a policy was implemented which allowed anyone who built or renovated a property in the former East of Germany or in Berlin to write off the entire cost of the investment form their taxable income over ten years (Hans-Werner Sinn 1995). The current system for providing social housing involves the public sector subsidising private forms to develop new social housing or refurbish existing housing. In exchange for subsidies, these firms are required to operate the housing as social housing, which includes enforcing income limits and rent ceilings related to the particular property for a given period. The public sector pays the difference between the amount received in rent or mortgage payment and the actual cost. At the end of the designated period, the owner is free to rent the dwelling at market price. The number of social houses in Germany is believed to be declining by approximately 100,000 per year due to this policy. Persons eligible for social housing are subject to a system which takes into account individual household needs and is subject to regularly adjusted income ceilings. Eligible applicants are then issued permits known as Wohnberechtigungsschein.
The main criticism of the system of providing German social housing was that although the initial capital outlay is low, the public sector is burdened with the cost of social housing for decades. As well as this, the German system of providing such housing left an opening for social segregation as owners of social housing generally chose from a number of eligible applicants and the tenant deemed the most desirable was chosen. It became an instrument for preserving the existing social mix.
Rent increases were imposed for those whose incomes were above social housing ceilings. This was aimed at enticing the tenants to leave the subsidised homes and also to collect funds to re-invest in social housing. The increases were unsuccessful as they brought social housing rents for the middle class close to the level of rents paid by those in private rented housing. Rent of private housing is controlled after the initial negotiation of market rent.
The fall in the level of social housing in Germany has affected the low to middle income groups the hardest, particularly in areas of growth. In parts of Munich, some local authorities have now made it a requirement to provide a certain proportion of social housing in new developments. The diminishing stock of German social housing makes it difficult to use as a social tool and it is now mainly seen as a financial asset which can be privatised to reduce public debts. The remaining stick of social housing tends to contain problematic households and is thus causing social segregation.
4.3.1 German Housing Statistics
· Owner Occupation is at 45%
· Private rental accommodation is at 49%
· Social housing accounts for 6%
All percentages are of the total housing stock and are taken from the RICS.
Prior to 1990, the Hungarian stock of social housing accounted for approximately 23% of the overall national housing stock. Housing privatisation first became possible during the 1980's. Subsidised low interest loans also became available to finance private house building and also state controlled housing investment. These changes coincided with a recession and eventually led to housing crises. In 1993, the government deceased subsidies in the housing sector and reduced its direct role. Local governments were given the responsibilities of managing a housing allowance program partially financed by their own resources.
Between 1995 and 2000, the legal framework in relation to housing was improved. Two types of financial institutions were established to aid lending to owner-occupiers, contract savings banks and mortgage banks.
In 2000, a new housing program was introduced. This was made possible by the recent fall in subsidies. This program had two priorities, to support new construction and the purchase of private homes through subsidised housing credit and to support the public rented sector through targeted programs, according to Hegedüs, J. (2005)
The stock of social housing in Hungary fell from 20% in 1989 to 4% in 2003. This was mainly influenced by the 1993 Law on housing which introduced a “right to buy” initiative which resulted in existing tenants buying their social houses for approximately 10-15% of the market price. Social tenants that remained were generally the poorest.
When nationwide rent controls were abolished in 1990, there were fears that there would be an escalation of public sector rents, this however didn't happen. The average rent remains low and housing is a loss-making activity for local governments. Rents only cover 30%-40% of actual costs. Even at this level, rents are unaffordable for the majority of tenants. A survey carried out in 2003 showed that 22% of public sector households were in arrers, compared to 5% in the owner occupied sector. Due to the decentralisation of housing, local governments have varying policies in relation to social housing. No compensation is available form the government to the local authorities and they would be financially better off if they privatised all of their stock.
Certain local governments have been accused of influencing social segregation by offering grants to the poor to move to certain areas. Wealthy districts in Budapest have even bought housing for the poor in other districts. Even urban renewal programmes involved displacing poor residents although many now include a target of keeping the poor in the area of renewal. Some local authorities have increased rents but also introduced rent allowances to help lower income households. Non-paying tenants are generally moved to the poorest housing estates, thus contributing to social segregation.
In 2000, a new housing programme was launched which included support for the social rented sector. Local authorities received grants which coverage up to 75%of the construction costs of social housing. Cost based rental housing was also introduced which had the aim of long-term cost recovery and a minimum annual rent of 2% of the construction cost. This proved quite successful as during the first fem years, operational costs were below rent receipts. The programme was not enough to stop the long term decreased in the stock of social housing. A new government came into power in 2002 and by 2004 they had cut and proposed to replace it with a rent allowance programme combined with a public private partnership scheme for the rental investment. The propped scheme involved central and local government providing a subsidy to developers to bridge the gap between market rent and affordable rent. The scheme failed as developers wanted too high a rent. In 2005 the government introduced a new rent allowance program which aimed to use the private sector for social rented housing. It involved central government paying up to 30% of social tenants rent month and local authorities paying a similar amount. This scheme also failed as landlords had to be registered with tax authority and very few of them actually were. A new scheme was launched in 2006 which gave local authorities access to subsidise loans for investment in the social rented sector. The success of this scheme has still to be determined.
4.4.1 Hungarian Housing Statistics
· Owner occupation is 92%
· Private rented accommodation accounts for 4%
· Social housing take up the remaining 4%
All percentages are of the total housing stock and are taken from the RICS
Social segregation is a common issue which arose in the three countries studied. From the study of the housing provision in these countries, Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 in Ireland appears to be the most efficient policy with regard to combating social segregation. Guidelines issued from the Department of the Environment on Part V state that:
In negotiating with developers local authorities should ensure that each agreement delivers the best possible result in terms of overall housing supply and social integration for their area, (The Department of the Environment 2010).
Government policies in the studied countries do not appear to address this social issue that is held in such high regard in Ireland. Social segregation can be seen as a major stumbling block with the provision of social housing and the stigma that is attached to such housing schemes. As a direct comparison to the studied countries, Ireland is the only example where legislation has directly addressed and has requirement the provision of social and affordable housing to be integrated in every new development since the introduction of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to combat social segregation.
5. Case Study on Dublin City Council Housing Department in Relation to Part V
This Chapter will investigate how Dublin City Council's housing department provides social and affordable housing under Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 - 2002.
Dublin City Council like all local authorities has a statutory function under the 1919 Housing Act to provide housing for those in their area that can not provide housing for themselves.
Dublin City Council has various schemes to enable an eligible applicant to receive a permanent home. Traditionally Dublin City Council has provided housing to those unable to afford their own property by means of a council home. A council home is one received by the applicant from the council upon which they must pay rent. To receive a council home the applicant must place themselves on the housing list. Before an applicant can be entered onto the housing list they must first meet performance criteria that include, your age (you must be over 18), you are unable to provide housing from your own resources, you currently live in Ireland or are legally entitled to and your income must not exceed €32,000 per annum. A person living in a council house for more than 12 months can apply to purchase their house under the tenant purchase scheme. As discussed in section 2.7.3, Section 90 of the 1966 Housing Act allows a current tenant of a local authority to purchase their home from them.
As described in section 1.4, 1999 saw the introduction of a new housing initiative that provided an alternative means for providing housing. This was the affordable housing scheme. Dublin City Council was the first council to unveil this scheme. The affordable housing scheme was introduced with the clear aim, to provide housing to the first time buyers that had been edged out of their housing markets due to inflated housing prices. This was particularly apparent in the Dublin city limits, as Dublin city was experiencing unprecedented property values, as shown in Fig 2:
Under this scheme Dublin City Council reviewed their land banks and made the vast majority of this land available for affordable housing, not social housing that had been the norm in the past. As described by Mr Brendan Flemming formally of (Dublin City Council), Dublin City Council unlike other local authorities that adapted the affordable housing scheme assessed their existing social housing stocks and identified areas that needed redevelopment. They redeveloped these areas with the aid of developers to integrate new affordable and social housing with private housing. These mixed developments have proven to be successful and have provided a template that other local authorities have used in their own areas.
The price of the affordable houses was based on the construction price of the property not the land value. To be eligible for this scheme an applicant had to match criteria set out in the 1999 Affordable Housing Scheme:
People in need of housing and satisfy an income test, i.e. a single income household's gross income should not exceed €40,000, while in the case of a two income household, that two and a half times the gross income of the principal earner plus once the gross income of the subsidiary earner should not exceed €100,000, or have been approved for local authority social housing, or be an existing local authority tenant or a tenant of voluntary or co-operative housing associations.
(The Affordable housing Scheme 1999)
From the affordable housing scheme 1999, affordable housing became a statutory requirement bound by legislation in Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 - 2002.
This Act required a developer when he applies for planning permission for a new development where social and/or affordable housing will be provided under Part V of Planning and Development Acts 2000 - 2002, Dublin City Council would decide on what percentage of affordable housing the development would need to provide. The maximum being 20% as set out in Part V. Dublin City Council usually set a requirement at 11% as the need for affordable housing did not satisfy the maximum 20%.
Dublin City Council would then buy these houses from the developer at an agreed price that would be close to the cost price of the building, not the current market price to provide the housing as affordable housing.
To be eligible for an affordable house from Dublin City Council an applicant has to satisfy the requirements under the scheme. The first step to buying an affordable home in Dublin City Council is a €50 application fee to be entered onto the affordable housing list. An applicant as defined in Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 - 2002 must be:
In need of accommodation and who otherwise would have to pay more than 35% of their net annual income on mortgage payments for the purchase of a suitable dwelling.
When a development was granted permission, applicants on the affordable housing list would be informed of the development and the area that it was situated in. It is then up to the applicant to make an application for a house in that development if they wish. Dublin City Council would then allocate these houses by means of a lottery system to those who have expressed interest in that particular development. The applicant can finance the purchase of the property directly from Dublin City Council or another lending organisation, similar to the scenario in other local authorities.
As described by Mrs Margaret Heffernan of Dublin City Council, The affordable housing scheme operated in Dublin City Council applies only to local residents who originate from the Dublin City Council environs. This means that the applicant must be current residents or the sons and daughters of current residents in the area. The lottery allocation process for affordable housing employed by Dublin City Council is unique to it and is not the same as the systems employed by other local authorities. For example Fingal County Council allocates affordable housing by means of a prioritisation system with regard to each individual applicant.
When the Planning and Development Act 2000 was introduced, the uptake of the provision for social and affordable housing in the Dublin City Authority area was very slow. This period was described by Mrs Margaret Heffernan as being an “ironing out period”. During this period developers were reluctant to conform with the legislation so it was difficult for the Housing Department in Dublin City Council to negotiate the provision of social and affordable housing. This period saw Dublin City Council release few affordable houses under the Planning and Development Act 2000. They continued to redevelop their own land and existing housing stocks to provide social and affordable housing.
The introduction of the Planning and Development Act 2002 saw a break through with the developers. As discussed in section 3.5.6 the Amendment Act gave developers a range of alternatives to the original requirements set out in the 2000Act. The most common deal with developers in Dublin City Council was the provision of alternative land to provide social and affordable housing.
Dublin City Council also provides social and affordable housing through Public Private Partnership Initiatives. Public Private Partnership projects involve both publics and private sectors to provide essential works in the most economically sensible way. These projects are high value, sought after lands that are in the possession of the state. Dublin City Council has many properties that have a high market value. These properties include Army Barracks, Garda Stations, and Government Buildings etc. These projects are partnerships between the public and private sectors for the purposes of delivering a project or service, which was traditionally provided by the public sector. Dublin City Council aims to provide 2,788 new social units 2,681 affordable units through public private partnership projects.
Currently with the market down turn Dublin City Council is struggling to provide effective housing in its area. When the council bought the stocks of social and affordable housing from the developers since the introduction of the amendment Act 2002, it financed these purchases based on a quick turn around to the recipients. Now projects are still being completed where contracts have been signed before the property down turn. These units are now considered to be in negative equity. The council simply cannot sell the unit onto the applicant at what is considered now an affordable price without being subject to a significant loss to bridge the gap of what they had planned to sell the unit at to what it's now worth. In fact in most cases people that were previously on the affordable housing list are now purchasing property on their own means.
As a result Dublin City Council is suffering serious financial losses that have had dramatic effects on its budget. Dublin City Council is now only paying the interest on the finance that it received to purchase the units form the developers.
These factors are spawning new problems for the council. A major factor of having all the uninhabited units is anti social behaviour for the few residents that is in the estate.
This has let to the commissioning of various report and researches into new initiatives to claw back the lost money and to off load the property.
* Signed contracts with developers and applicants before the property market fell, (negative equity).
6. Conclusion and Recommendations
The aim of this dissertation as outlined in chapter one was to investigate into social and affordable housing to determine whether the aims and objectives of these forms of housing are being satisfied.
A combination of economic and demographic changes in the 1990's fuelled the escalation in house demand. This was especially prevalent in Dublin City.
Chapter 3 explains some of the approaches the Irish Government took to intervene in the housing market to satisfy the Irish Housing Policy (3.2), which outlines the aims and objectives of the housing system in Ireland. These initiatives include the three Bacon Reports that culminated in the introduction of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000.
It was then necessary to analyse Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the Amendment Act 2002 in practice in a local authority, which was Dublin City Council. This analyse in Dublin City Council found that the introduction of Part V in 2000 provided significant difficulties with developers in relation to the integration and provision of social and affordable housing in new developments. The integration of these units into private developments was a significant aim of Part V to combat social segregation. This process was deemed to be unfeasible in practice by the developers and was amended in the 2002 Act. This amendment undermined the original aim to integrate social and affordable housing into new developments as a means of combating social segregation and ghettoisation. Consequently the practicalities of the management and maintenance of the Past V units has superseded the idealism and units are now being clustered together. This aim has further been watered down by the agreement of off site provision. This has resulted in the complete social segregation of social and affordable units off site.
This is effectively history repeating itself with the construction of areas that are purely social and or affordable housing, like what happened in areas such as Ballymun, Finglas and Coolock in Dublin under previous Housing Policies.
The comparison with other European countries with similar housing objectives as Ireland has provided useful information for housing provisions in this country that should be considered in future housing policies.
As mention in 4.2 the Netherlands in 1995 abolished government subsidies for the provision of social housing. This led to the Dutch government losing control of the behaviour of its housing associations and housing authorities. Ireland should take note of this finding and should not use the provision of social housing in the current economic climate as a cost cutting method, as social housing in the Netherlands is now considered a problem not a solution.
Currently local authorities are experiencing budget difficulties, as discussed in chapter 5. These budget difficulties can be related and blamed on the current down turn in the property market, but excuses cant be made and a review of the current housing situation is urgently needed as the aims set out in the current Housing Policy to “enable every household to have available an affordable dwelling of good quality, suited to its needs, in a good environment and as far as possible at the tenure of its choice” is not being satisfied. The segregation of social and affordable housing that is permitted under the Amendment Act 2002 is effectively undermining the Irish Housing Policy to provide a dwelling “of good quality, in a good environment”. This issue must be addressed and a middle ground between the 2000 and 2002 amendment Act of the Planning and Development Act, that satisfies housing requirements and the developers, needs to be found as a mater of urgency to avoid serious social implications that have happened in similar areas in the past.
The Planning and Development Act 2000 – 2002 does not state the quality of materials that are to be used for the provision of social and affordable housing. This has led to developers using cheaper materials and quicker constructional methods to construct the required units, as raised by Mick Wallace in the Irish Times on the 21st of April 2007. This has provided in some cases a visual difference between the private and social/affordable housing in areas where they have been integrated together. This is visual segregation and does not fully satisfy the term social integration that is used in the Act. This must be rectified to satisfy the social implications related to the stigma of social housing.
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