Clifford and Lorna Dunlea; Sinéad Furlong and John Doherty; and Lavina Higgins and Liam Sexton are among the first 16 tenants to get the keys to their new three-bedroom homes in Ashmount Mews, in the Silversprings/Mayfield area on the north side of Cork City.
The 130-home estate will by the end of the year have 34 social housing units, delivered through Nama’s social housing “special purpose vehicle”, which works with approved housing bodies, such as Respond! Housing.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney visited the first families to move in under phase one of the scheme yesterday. Once phase two is completed by December, the housing units will be home to 44 adults and 70 children.
“We are absolutely thrilled to move into these beautiful new houses. We don’t ever have to worry again about where we will raise our kids,” Lavina and Liam said.
Sinéad and John said Respond! has changed their lives: “We would like to see the Respond! values of building communities as the standard for allocating houses, and the creation of real neighbourhoods as the standard for future developments for people in the same situation as ourselves.”
Mr Coveney hailed the project as an example for completing an unfinished estate and delivering social housing at the same time.
Nama chief executive officer Brendan McDonagh said the agency has delivered more than 2,200 such houses and apartments for social housing since 2012.
“Individuals and families get access to high-quality housing, local authority housing lists are reduced, and properties that weren’t being occupied are brought into the use they were intended for, which is good for Nama and for taxpayers, and especially for the new occupiers,” he said.
Ned Brennan, chief operations officer of Respond!, said Ashmount Mews is the type of integrated development envisaged in the Government’s new housing strategy, Rebuilding Ireland.
“Our tenants will be alongside the wider Ashmount private development,” he said. “All our tenants will have the benefit of our resident support workers to assist them in their new homes and to work with them in terms of improving their employment prospects and educational opportunities. That is the Respond! model — we are always there for our tenants whenever the need arises.”
Respond! has ambitious plans for further development in Cork city and county, with about 240 social housing units at various stages of negotiation.