Department admit Affordable Houses not guaranteed from €226m Infrastructure Fund – Ó Broin
Under questioning from Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD, officials from the Department of Housing admitted that funding provided under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) may not provide any affordable i.e. units under €300k in Dublin and lower elsewhere. LIHAF was established to assist private developers to unlock stalled developments by funding infrastructure in return for an element of affordability.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“In August 2016, the Department issued a circular on LIHAF stipulating that 40% of the new homes must be 10% under market prices under €300k in Dublin and lower outside the county. Then, in a September circular, they rowed back from this particular commitment and today they have totally abandoned it.
“When this fund was first announced, there were clear commitments made by the Department that placed an onus on developers to guarantee some level of affordability, in return for receiving taxpayer’s money to unlock the development sites. For example, the Cherrywood site in South Dublin was allocated €15.19m in LIHAF funding to upgrade and build roads and bridges. This funding will contribute to the construction of 8,000 new homes.
“When I last discussed this issue with the former Minister for Housing Simon Coveney, he said that the local authorities would have come up with the affordability criteria that developments would have to reach. This is despite there being no actual definition of what actually constitutes affordable housing from the government. The reality is there is currently no government plan for affordable housing.
“Today at the Housing Committee, the Department confirmed that LIHAF funding could be spent on Developments in which there would not be any affordable housing for example homes priced under €300,000. Therefore, the taxpayer is subsidising big developers such as US developer Hines, without guaranteeing any return in terms of affordable housing. The government should not distribute any of this fund without ensuring that the developer has made a commitment to ensure a level of affordable housing which is in proportion to the levels of LIHAF funding received.”