In advance of the 2019 local elections, the Housing Alliance is calling for
MORE SOCIAL AND AFFORDABLE HOMES.
We are asking candidates and political representatives at all levels of government to:
- Develop a time-lined action plan to explore all options to move AHBs ‘off-balance sheet’ and provide practical support to do so.
- Introduce a new sustainable and effective affordable rental scheme.
- Remove barriers to the speedy delivery of homes by AHB.
Develop a time-lined action plan to explore all options to move AHBs ‘off-balance-sheet’ and provide practical support to do so.
Tier 3 AHBs need to be reclassified as off-Government’s Balance Sheet. In 2018, Eurostat and the Central Statistics Office (CSO) deemed 14 of the largest Tier 3 AHBs to be part of the General Government sector and, as a result, on the Government’s Balance Sheet. This may have significant negative consequences for the funding of AHBs in the medium to long-term, limiting the capacity of Housing Alliance members to source funds from Government or external sources. The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy TD, and the Minister of State with responsibility for Housing and Urban Development, Damian English TD, have both committed Government to securing the reclassification of these Tier 3 AHBs. In order to deliver on this commitment, a time-lined action plan is urgently required from Government, to ensure that the steps required to restore these AHBs to their former classification are taken. Failure to secure reclassification will restrict funding available to Tier 3 AHBs, and thus impact on the output of more social and affordable homes. Tier three AHBs are those with over 300 homes or development plans to increase to over 300 homes.
In order to fully utilise the potential offered by Tier 3 AHBs, new and sustainable affordable rental and cost rental schemes, beyond existing pilot models, need to be introduced.
The rollout of new schemes of this type would facilitate a significant increase in the availability of social and affordable homes and accelerate the development of new schemes by Tier 3 AHBs. We are available to contribute to this process.
Remove existing barriers to the timely delivery of homes by AHBs.
A number of barriers are currently obstructing and impeding output of new social and affordable homes by AHBs. These include cashflow; limited availability of skilled construction staff; and lack of availability of suitable sites to build much-needed homes, thus slowing progress toward the Rebuilding Ireland: An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness targets.
In the past, construction ‘start-up’ costs – including architect fees, valuation fees, legal fees, etc. – were allocated along with Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF), funding at a rate of 1.5% of the overall project costs. CALF is a facility which helps AHBs access finance. Reinstating this practice would be one option for overcoming cashflow issues. Another option would be the ‘rolling-up’ or capitalisation of interest over the course of a European Investment Bank (EIB)/Housing Finance Agency (HFA) loan, to be paid as a lump sum at the end of the term of the loan, as is the case for many other lenders. In addition, we call for initiatives to entice skilled and experienced staff into the sector and to support its reinvigoration and sustainability.
AHBs of the Housing Alliance can deliver more homes, at scale, to help the State meet its social and affordable housing commitments, delivering homes for individuals and families who urgently need them. Concerted action is required from Government to overcome the obstacles outlined here. This will allow Housing Alliance members to deliver homes and reach their social purpose objectives, making a real difference to the lives of individuals and families all around the country.