Housing associations 'need Land Development Agency to help' provide social homes

Update: The chief executive of the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) is calling on the Land Development Agency to provide more land to housing associations to build social housing, writes Vivienne Clarke.

Dr Donal McManus said that the biggest obstacle to building more social housing is the lack of suitable land.

Dr McManus told RTE Radio’s Morning Ireland that while there are 500 housing associations in the country, only 270 are active with most providing housing for an income-based rent.

Housing associations build homes through two methods, he explained.

He said: "That is directly or through joint ventures, but the biggest issue remains the lack of land.

“We can build houses, raise the finance, get some support from the State and charge affordable rents, but we need the Land Development Agency to help.”

Housing associations charge affordable rents, which are usually around €55 per week for a family home, he added.

“We house people on lower incomes under €35,000 to €40,000.”

The ICSH works well with the private sector, said Dr McManus, with many companies working repeatedly on projects.

Earlier: Housing associations provided almost 40% of social homes in 2018

The Irish Council for Social Housing has said its members helped deliver four in 10 new social homes last year.

The group, which represents roughly 270 social housing providers, is today launching its latest 'Activity Report' for 2018.

According to the Irish Council for Social Housing's report, the sector provided 3,219 social homes last year, 38% of the national total.

Over half were new builds, one third were acquisitions and roughly a tenth were leased.

4,000 households were also taken off the social housing waiting list.

The group said out of all the social houses delivered, two-thirds were in nine local authority areas, reflecting the higher demand in urban areas.

It says since Rebuilding Ireland was launched in 2016, it has delivered 6,700 homes and is on track to surpass targets for 2021.

However, the group wants any obstacles to this target removed, and is calling on the Government to publish the bill establishing the Land Development Act as a matter of urgency.

They are also calling for at least 30% of housing on State land be ring-fenced for social housing and 20% for affordable housing under the act.

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