Call for Government help on social housing

Housing associations provided one-third of the total amount of long-term social housing last year, amid calls for more government help in providing increased housing in future.

The Irish Council for Social Housing published its annual report which showed housing associations, normally not-for-profit organisations, provided 2,330 homes for social housing in 2017 through a combination of build, acquisition and leasing, almost doubling its output for 2016.

Along with re-lets of existing homes, the ICSH said 3,160 homes were provided last year. The body represents over 270 housing associations.

Its report also noted 173 people in homelessness were accommodated via Housing First and 15 family hubs were delivered by housing associations in 2017.

There were also 619 applications made under the mortgage-to -rent scheme which assisted homeowners at risk of losing their homes.

It also said that 5,756 new homes would be delivered in the coming years, mostly through builds and acquisitions and, while predominantly general needs’ housing, a significant proportion will be for the elderly, people with a disability, and those who are homeless.

Some 15,500 social homes, overall, are due to be provided by 2021 under Rebuilding Ireland.

The launch of the report was accompanied by calls for government action to further boost progress in the area.

The ICSH said it wanted access to a planned pipeline of sites for new housing association development and an affordable housing model for the delivery of homes at sub-market rent levels by housing associations.

It also called for a streamlining of the approvals process for new build and acquisitions under the capital assistance scheme for homes for people who are homeless, older persons, people with disabilities and young people leaving state care.

Finally, it also urged the Government to work with those in the sector to reverse the reclassification decision placing housing associations on the Government’s balance sheet.

Housing associations, also known as approved housing bodies or AHBs, provide social housing around the country and the ICSH said its members had been working to increase the number of homes in response to the housing crisis.

The AHBs now use both the Capital Assistance Scheme and the Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme (SHCEP) to deliver social housing.

Dr Donal McManus, ICSH chief executive, said the figures for last year showed a 10-fold increase on the number of properties delivered, compared with the comparable figure for 2013.

“Housing associations are tasked with delivering more than 15,000 of the 50,000 social homes committed to in Rebuilding Ireland,” he said.

“ICSH member organisations own and manage 33,000 social homes and our goal is to grow our social housing stock by 50% over the next five years, to almost 50,000 units.

“The development pipeline for housing associations stands at over 5,700 homes. ICSH believe this number can be increased with specific actions by Government.

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