Credit Unions could fund thousands of extra homes: Sinn Fein

The government should allow Credit Unions to make available the hundreds of millions of euros they have available for the provision of social and affordable housing, according to Sinn Fein.

Speaking during the Housing Committee hearings on credit union financing of social and affordable housing Sinn Fein TD Eoin Ó Broin suggested "that with the government failing to deliver and with credit unions and AHBs in a position to pick up the slack we need to make the regulatory changes necessary to simply deliver more homes.”

Mr O’Broin said the Irish League of Credit Unions have indicated  they can lend between €173m to €520m a year to provide much needed homes and that agencies like Respond, Clúid, Oaklee, and Co-operative housing have confirmed that they could use this funding to provide thousands of additional social and affordable homes every year.

The Dublin Mid-West TD said: “These would be in addition to existing targets contained in the Government’s Housing Action Plan and provide up to 15,000 social and affordable homes.

“The discussion surrounding utilising credit union finance for social housing has been going on for years with little movement in the right direction to date.

“Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) are not supposed to replace local authority social housing provision but they are in a position to complement it.

"We are in the midst of a housing crisis and Sinn Féin believe that with access to the appropriate finance the larger AHBs should be in a position to deliver an additional 2,000 to 4,000 real social housing units a year.

Mr Ó Broin went on to suggest the government was not not focused on the housing crisis and said the creation of a specific credit union fund from which tier three AHBs can apply, on a rolling basis, for loan finance for the purchase, renovation and/or building of social housing was a feasible option.

"The proportion of funding provided by the credit union would either be on a 100% basis or a 70% basis. In the case of the latter, the Department of Housing would provide the remaining 30% through the existing AHB funding mechanisms already well established."

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