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Funding and Regulatory Obstacles Frustrating Delivery of Social and Affordable Housing

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Funding and Regulatory Obstacles Frustrating Delivery of Social and Affordable Housing

Funding and Regulatory Obstacles Frustrating Delivery of Social and Affordable Housing
May 16
10:17 2019

The Housing Alliance, a collaboration of six of Ireland’s largest Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), has launched its new campaign, ‘More Social and Affordable Homes’, and met with members of the Oireachtas at a recent event in Dublin. AHBs are not-for-profit organisations that have a social purpose to provide for people’s housing needs by working in close co-operation with the Government, local authorities and relevant agencies.

Commenting on the campaign, Declan Dunne, Chair of the Housing Alliance, said, “The current shortage of social and affordable housing in Ireland is one of the most acute problems facing our society. Members of the Housing Alliance can deliver more homes, at scale, to help the State meet its social and affordable housing commitments – delivering homes for individuals and families who urgently need them. However, funding and regulatory obstacles are frustrating delivery.”

“To make progress, we need Government support to move Approved Housing Bodies ‘off balance-sheet’. Failure to secure reclassification will restrict funding available and thus impact on the output of more social and affordable homes. We also want to see the roll-out of new and sustainable affordable rental schemes – beyond existing pilot models. And barriers to the speedy delivery of new homes must be addressed.”

Three Key Campaign Issues

With the ‘More Social and Affordable Homes’ campaign, the Housing Alliance is aiming to make housing a key issue in the lead-up to the local and European elections later this month. The Alliance is calling for action in three specific areas:

  1. Development by Government of a time-lined action plan to explore all options to move AHBs ‘off-balance-sheet’ and provide practical support to do so. In 2018, Eurostat and the Central Statistics Office (CSO) deemed 14 of the largest AHBs (Tier 3) to be part of the General Government sector and, as a result, on the Government’s Balance Sheet. This may have significant negative consequences for the funding of AHBs in the medium to long-term, limiting the capacity of Housing Alliance members to source funds from Government or external sources.
  2. Introduce new and sustainable affordable rental and cost rental schemes, beyond existing pilot models, to fully utilise the potential offered by AHBs.
  3. Remove barriers to the speedy delivery of homes by AHBs, including cashflow, limited availability of skilled construction staff, and lack of availability of suitable sites. According to the Alliance, reinstating ‘start up’ costs associated with CALF; capitalisation of interest over the course of a European Investment Bank/Housing Finance Agency loan to be paid as a lump sum at the end of the term of the loan; and initiatives to entice skilled and experienced staff into the sector are all measures that are needed to improve the delivery of social and affordable homes.

“Concerted action is required from Government to overcome these obstacles, and the Housing Alliance is keen to work with Government to achieve this,” continued Declan Dunne. “We want to deliver homes and make a real difference to the lives of individuals and families all around the country.”

Local Elections

John Hannigan, Vice-Chair of the Alliance, said: “Housing is an issue that has been consistently to the fore of public and political debate in Ireland in recent years. There is widespread agreement that more and better social and affordable homes are required. Local government plays a key role in housing delivery, and the members of the Housing Alliance collaborate and partner with local authorities nationwide.

“Leading up to the local elections this month, we are aiming to make this a key issue on the doorsteps. We want to engage not only national politicians, but local representatives and candidates nationwide. The Government has recognised that AHBs are central to the meeting of Ireland’s social and affordable housing needs, with Rebuilding Ireland recognising that AHBs will deliver one-third of the 50,000 additional social homes needed by 2021. We believe that, with all stakeholders working together, we can significantly improve the supply of social and affordable homes.”

Alliance Members

The Housing Alliance is comprised of six of Ireland’s largest AHBs, bodies that have been formally approved by government to provide social housing.  The members are: Clúid Housing, Circle Voluntary Housing, Co-operative Housing Ireland, Oaklee Housing, Respond and Tuath Housing.

Collectively, Alliance members are responsible for over 20,000 social homes nationwide, representing two-thirds of the total AHB housing stock in Ireland.  Over the last two years, 2017 and 2018, Alliance members delivered more than 3,500 homes. They are currently working across at least 50 schemes with over 2,000 homes in the pipeline, and more to come in 2019, with the support of partners.

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