Just over 1,000 new social homes were built in the first half of the year, compared to the Government's target of 6,000 by the end of the year.

The figures are contained in the latest quarterly Social Housing Construction Status Report, but it states that these numbers will improve, and that a "progressively increased output is expected throughout the remainder of the year as developments in the pipeline materialise".

The report states that there are 6,439 social housing units under construction, with a further 8,387 in the planning pipeline.

Overall, 84,147 additional new homes for social housing have been provided halfway through the five year Rebuilding Ireland programme, which began in 2016.

The additional units have come mainly through the subsidised rental schemes HAP and RAS, consisting of a total of 60,379 units. The rest have come through build, acquisition, leasing and restoration of voids.

It is just over 60% of the target of 138,000 additional social housing units by the end of 2021, at a cost of €6bn.

The report states that there is a refocus on construction to provide new homes, with the numbers being built going from 26,00 to 33,617, while acquisitions are going down from 11,000 to 6,830. The rest of the 50,000 new homes will consist of 10,036 units obtained through leasing.

The report also states that the number on the housing waiting list has been reduced by 26% since 2016.

Meanwhile, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has said that the vast majority of homes in the proposed development in the O'Devaney Gardens site in Dublin's north inner city will cost less than €310,000.

Last week, Dublin City Council said it had appointed Bartra Capital as the preferred bidder for the development of the site.

It was formerly the location of 272 flats across 13 four-storey blocks and is to be redeveloped into a mix of 824 private, social and affordable homes. 

Some 165 units will be sold under the Government's affordable housing scheme which requires local authorities sell homes at 30-40% below the market value. 

But there has been criticism of the proposed costs, with reports suggesting affordable homes will be priced between €270,000 and €315,000 for a two-bedroom house and between €360,000 and €420,000 for a three bedroom apartment.

Mr Murphy said: "The majority of affordable homes there will be for less than €310,000. I spoke to Dublin City Council yesterday and they informed me that there will be no homes sold for more than €400,000. It is more work for Dublin City Council to do on this." 

Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins said a person would have to earn €70,000 a year to be able to buy one of these affordable homes.

"That is not what the majority of workers in this country are touching on, that is the top earners in this country," she told the Dáil.

O'Devaney Gardens had consisted of over 270 flats across 13 blocks

Meanwhile, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has called for a ban on evictions from rented properties on the grounds of sale.

Speaking in the Dáil, he said families were facing evictions at the hands of vulture funds and he said that current legislation was "riddled with loopholes".

Mr Boyd Barrett said some vulture funds were using loopholes including substantial refurbishment to evict people.

He said the Anti-evictions Bill needed to be passed, which he accused Mr Murphy of blocking.

In response, Mr Murphy said a number of measures have been introduced over recent years with the objective of improving security of tenure for tenants under the Residential Tenancies Acts.

He said the Residential Tenancies Board was in place to deal with landlord and tenant disputes.

He said he was precluded from interfering with the judicial nature of the RTB.

Mr Murphy said a ban on evicting tenants if the property goes up for sale would not work because the person who buys the property could still serve a notice to quit.

He said the RTB was in place to make sure that tenants had the strongest rights possible and when there was a breach they could find resolution through the RTB.

Additional reporting Mary Regan
Additional reporting Aisling Kenny