Friday 5 August 2011

Loan model used to buy 58 units for social housing

A MODEL of fully funding social housing through loans has been used for the first time on apartments purchased through the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

The 58 apartments in Beacon South Quarter, south Dublin, were sold for €10.3 million to non-profit housing association Clúid. Thirty-four units will be used for social housing and 24 for the private rental market.

Loans rather than exchequer grants would be the future for social housing, Minister of State for Housing Willie Penrose said as he unveiled the project yesterday

The “days of 100 per cent capital funding are gone, the money isn’t there”. Direct building of social housing was “no longer tenable”, he said.

The model to fund the units was a “new departure”, which would “play an important role in the delivery of social housing in the years ahead”, he added.

It is the first time the State-established Housing Finance Agency has given loans directly to the voluntary housing sector. The agency provided 75 per cent of the loan to Clúid, with the remaining loan coming through Clúid resources and a newly created capital advance lending facility mainly from exchequer funds.

Clúid aims to repay the loans through rents and payments from the social housing units.

It was a “sea change” in the funding of social housing forced by the recession, Clúid’s director of operations, Neil Bolton, said. “Public funds are extremely scarce but the demand for social housing continues to grow.”

The scheme is the first time units have been sold through Nama for use as permanent social housing. This represented the “social dividend” from Nama, Mr Penrose said. He would be “urging Nama to “engage proactively” with approved housing bodies for future schemes.

Other similar acquisitions could be made through Nama and other estates where receivers are involved, he said. He ruled out using this model as a solution for unfinished so-called ghost estates.

“We are certainly not going to ship people out to areas where there are no facilities,” he said.

Irish Examiner

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