Housing Associations built 41% of social housing in Ireland in 2019. An increasing part of social housing is cost rental housing, which is “what it says on the tin”. The rent covers the cost & maintenance of the home but is not profit based.
There are 500 housing associations in Ireland some of which are household names such as Cluid, Peter McVerry Trust, Simon Communities, Fold Ireland, Tuath Housing, Threshold, Focus Ireland & Respond.
Respond was started in Waterford 40 years ago by Fr Pat Cogan, a Franciscan priest. Since then, it has built over 7,000 homes which it owns and manages.
Respond currently has 1,433 social and affordable homes under construction across Ireland. These are being funded through a Department of Housing cost-rental equity loan (Crel), capital advance leasing facility (Calf) finance, and loans from the Housing Finance Agency.
Respond has also signed agreements with contractors on sites that would see it start building thousands more cost-rental units this summer. Time is of the essence here, as prices will only increase, so dithering is not an option.
One caveat: Declan Dunne the CEO, and the board of Respond are not prepared to proceed with such an enormous building programme without a government commitment on risk. Fair Enough!
They have submitted a proposal to the government to adopt a new approach which would be ring -fenced as a proof-of-concept scheme under the banner of R&D.
I know, “the devil is in the details”.
There’s more! Declan Dunne believes if this new model is adopted it can be followed by other housing associations.
He gets my vote!