What is social housing?
Although in Ireland there is not an official definition of social housing, by reference to different Housing Acts68 it is possible to assert that the main purpose of social housing provision is to provide appropriate and decent housing via defined providers for lower income and social disadvantaged population groups, at an affordable cost, with adequate standards as regards size, design and specifications, and also to ensure fairness in the relationship between landlords and tenants.
It also includes additional social care and welfare support, particularly in special needs/sheltered housing, but also as part of community and neighbourhood enhancement. Since 2010, social housing has been expanded to social housing supports. Social housing accounts for about 8.7% of the total housing stock.
Who provides social housing?
The National government department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government together with the Housing Ministry, are responsible for developing the regulation of the housing provision. The main providers of social housing are the local authorities, while the approved not-for-profit, voluntary housing associations and co-operative housing societies are expanding their role owning at the moment about 18% of the social housing stock.
How is social housing financed?
Local public authorities are mainly financed through capital grant subsidy transfers from the government within annual budget allocations for their approved social housing programmes. Approved housing bodies may also apply to the local authorities for capital funding loans up to the full approved cost incurred for the development of their housing projects. Social housing rents are related to the income of and relatively low.
Who can access social housing?
Social housing in Ireland is directly oriented towards the poorest households. Besides income ceilings, there are additional criteria which give priority to certain groups. Such criteria include existing housing affordability difficulties; existing unfit or overcrowded housing conditions; medical or disability circumstances; homelessness; young person leaving institutional care; the needs of the elderly and persons or families living a nomadic way of life. Demand for social housing has increased from 56,000 households in need in 2008 to 98,000 in 2011.