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Foreword: Delivering sustainable housing

The 2023 edition of the Housing Ireland Magazine is the second since the publication of Housing for All, the Government’s housing plan. Launched in September 2021, it aims to provide 300,000 additional social, affordable, and private homes by 2030. Housing for All also sets out a range of initiatives to support social inclusion, eradicate homelessness, and to promote vibrancy within our towns and villages.

This plan represents a significant multi-year investment in the housing sector, targeted at increasing supply, improving affordability, and delivering high-quality homes in thriving communities. Considerable progress has been made. 2022 saw almost 30,000 completions, including the highest number of newly built social homes since 1975. In terms of affordability, the First Home Scheme, Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme, the new Cost Rental tenure, and Local Authority Home Loan are all assisting households to buy or rent homes at affordable prices. In addition, targeted, well-funded schemes have been introduced to reduce vacancy and dereliction and create new opportunities to live in town and village centres.

However, since the introduction of Housing for All, the housing sector has also encountered challenges. Significant increases in construction costs and inflation have impacted the viability of housing projects. Additional skilled workers are needed to grow the capacity of the sector and maintain the upward trajectory in housing delivery. Ireland has also been responding to the urgent need to provide accommodation for Ukrainian refugees and a growing number of international protection applicants. This has meant that policies and initiatives have necessarily been revised and changed. However, progress is not linear. Being agile and adapting to change is an important part of the process.

Recently, The Housing Agency brought together over 300 housing practitioners from across Ireland for the Housing Practitioners conference in Limerick under the theme ‘Housing for all: Lessons from Practice’. A key focus was on showcasing the progress that has been made since 2021; the new houses and apartments that that have been built, the vacant properties that are now converted into homes, and the ways that the needs of different groups are being integrated into housing developments. It was also heartening to see the resilience of housing professionals in the face of new challenges, and their commitment to increasing access to high quality, affordable homes countrywide.

While it is important to meet targets and deliver on shorter-term goals, it is also critical that we work toward a long-term vision that is grounded in providing a good quality of life. Creating and supporting sustainable communities is a key element of this long-term vision. For example, many social housing developments built in the mid-century are now some of the most desirable locations for people to live. To continue to deliver high-quality homes and thriving communities, The Housing Agency would like to see the introduction of a sustainable communities policy to ensure future delivery is environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable and provides homes in communities people are proud to live in.

Bob Jordan

Chief Executive
The Housing Agency