The Housing Alliance, a collaboration of six of Ireland’s largest Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), has welcomed commitments in the draft Programme for Government aimed at increasing the supply of affordable rental housing and making it easier for AHBs to access private finance to develop and manage housing schemes.
The draft Programme for Government was agreed today (15.06.20) by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and The Green Party.
Key Role for AHBs in Delivery of Social and Affordable Rental Housing
Commenting on the draft text, Declan Dunne, Chair of the Housing Alliance, welcomed the commitment to increase the supply of affordable housing, including affordable rental housing.
“The draft Programme for Government commits to affordable, high quality housing and promises to develop a cost rental model to create affordable, sustainable options for those living in rented accommodation on a long-term basis,” he said. “The Housing Alliance very much welcomes this commitment. An affordable rental scheme available in perpetuity will help counter the ‘boom and bust’ cycles that have plagued the Irish housing market in recent decades.
“AHBs have a key role to play in the development and delivery of such a scheme, drawing on our decades of experience in delivering quality and tailored social housing. We have the proven track record, expertise and capacity to build and manage social and affordable homes. We welcome the strategic role outlined for the Land Development Agency, ensuring control of social and affordable housing remains with Local Authorities and AHBs. We look forward to continuing our work alongside Local Authorities and the new Land Development Agency to ensure Ireland develops a high-quality and effective affordable rental scheme.
“We are extremely encouraged by the commitment to ensuring AHBs will be moved off the State’s balance sheet. Over the coming months, we look forward to working with Government, on a time-lined action plan to restore AHBs to our former off balance sheet classification, like the majority of housing associations across Europe. The restoration of off balance sheet status is particularly important at this time when very significant capital expenditure is required to fund social and affordable housing whilst also kickstarting a post-Covid-19 economic revival. Off balance sheet status means AHBs will be able to access private finance without it being classified as public borrowing, thereby securing best value for the State.”
Mr. Dunne said the Housing Alliance also welcomed the clauses within the draft Programme for Government on increasing social housing stock, standardising the differential rents regime across the country to ensure fairness, retrofitting houses, addressing homelessness, providing age-friendly housing options for older people and ending direct provision.
“Housing Alliance members have built, owned and managed over 22,000 homes to date, and have a strong track record of building and managing quality housing that also supports the building of communities,” he said.
“The draft Programme for Government recognises that AHBs will play a key role in providing housing and supporting communities while providing homes for families moving out of homelessness and for older people. It also commits to increasing social housing stock by over 50,000 over the next five years. Working with Local Authorities and relevant State agencies, AHBs will play a key role in reaching this target.”