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IRELAND’S HOUSING MAGAZINE

Ageing in place Clann’s Aoife Flynn Kennedy In association with


IRELAND’S HOUSING MAGAZINE

Contents

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Ireland’s housing magazine

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Foreword by Housing Agency CEO John O’Connor

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Affordable Housing Bill 2021

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Interview: Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD

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Cover Story: Head of Clann Aoife Flynn Kennedy

Housing affordability in Ireland

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Interview: Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD

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Fingal County Council: Innovative housing delivery

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Stormont Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey MLA

Cian O’Callaghan TD illustrates Social Democrats’ housing policy Who’s who in housing

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Ambitions to eradicate Finnish homelessness

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Editorial Owen McQuade Fiona McCarthy Ciarán Galway Odrán Waldron Design Gareth Duffy Paul Rooney

Sorcha Edwards, Secretary General of Housing Europe, explores affordable and social housing in the context of Covid-19

Covid-19 and construction Senator Rebecca Moynihan outlines the Labour Party’s housing priorities

Ireland’s Housing Magazine directory Back page: Maynooth University’s Rory Hearne

Advertising/Commercial Sam Tobin sam.tobin@eolasmagazine.ie Publishers eolas magazine www.eolasmagazine.ie info@eolasmagazine.ie @eolasmagazine

Dublin office: Clifton House Lower Fitzwilliam Street Dublin 2, D02 XT91 Tel: 01 661 3755 1


29 Date for your diary!

Irish Retrofitting Conference Wednesday 29th September 2021 · Croke Park, Dublin The Programme for Government pledges to develop a new area-based and one-stop-shop approach to retrofitting in order to upgrade at least 500,000 homes to a B2 energy rating by 2030. SEAI was designated the National Retrofitting Delivery Body by the Government and will be the main body charged with delivering this ambitious programme. Energy Ireland is organising a highly insightful conference in partnership with SEAI on the retrofitting programme in Ireland. The conference will bring together key stakeholders from across the sector. Its objective is to create a genuine in-depth understanding of the challenges and delivery details for decarbonising Ireland’s housing stock.

Sponsorship opportunities There are a limited number of opportunities for interested organisations to partner with the conference as a sponsor. This is an excellent way for organisations to raise their profile with a key audience of senior decisionmakers from across Ireland’s energy and construction sectors. For more information on packages available and speaking opportunities at the event contact us on 01 661 3755 or email info@energyireland.ie

In partnership with

Full programme announced soon

Online

www.energyireland.ie

Email

info@energyireland.ie

Telephone

+353 (0) 1 661 3755


Foreword Prioritising affordability and sustainability Ireland’s housing magazine

Later this year will mark the completion of my term of office as Chief Executive of The Housing Agency. When I look back over the last 10 years, I can see some great progress resulting from unprecedented public investment in housing. Last year, about one-third of all new homes were for social housing and there is a strong pipeline in place to further increase the construction of new homes. Much needs to be done to deliver the housing we need for everyone in our society. Affordability and sustainability are the two key challenges. The publication of the Affordable Housing Bill marks a monumental milestone. There are three main features to the Bill: •

a scheme of direct State-built affordable homes, local authorities will be able to deliver affordable housing for purchase on their own lands;

a national cost-rental scheme will be put on a legal footing, this continental style tenure will see rents based on the cost of provision and maintenance rather than market rents, and the potential for longer-term tenancies; and

a shared equity scheme for first-time buyers providing an equity stake of up to 20 per cent in new build homes.

These measures, adding to those already introduced over the last few years to help increase the supply of new homes and to support people in their homes, will provide the conditions necessary to improve affordability. And as we achieve this goal, we must actively include those who may need additional supports: older people and those with a disability; low incomes households; and those experiencing or at risk of losing their home. Our homes should unlock our participation in society and promote inclusive communities. We all need to take personal ownership of making sure our communities are sustainable, right now and for future generations. Climate change might seem such a big issue that it leaves us feeling overwhelmed, but we all need to ask: what can I do? We have a responsibility to embrace climate action in all the decisions we make. For example, in the construction materials we use; how we reduce waste and recycle; the energy efficiency of buildings; and where we locate new homes so that they are well connected to reduce car use. Rejuvenating our towns and villages so that people can live, work, access services within walking distance has many positives. In addition to having a climate change crisis, we have a biodiversity crisis. Therefore, our designs also need to support and encourage greater biodiversity in our neighbourhoods. We must leave room for the flowers, bees and butterflies! This is much easier to do if we incorporate biodiversity into our thinking and design from the beginning, rather than trying to retrofit it at a later stage. The result will be a more natural and sustainable environment, and a beautiful one too. Getting these issues right will have a profound effect on the quality of our housing and on our quality of life. The Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted for us all how important a safe and secure home is for everyone. The new housing plan, Housing for All, will set out a revised strategy to achieve the type of homes we all want and plans to tackle the challenges still facing us. I would like to conclude by thanking the housing community for your continuing support to The Housing Agency. We are a small organisation, and we can achieve our ambitions by working together. We work with those who share our values, to achieve better Housing for All. John O’Connor Chief Executive Officer The Housing Agency

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien TD: “A matter of moral urgency” Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD published his Affordable Housing Bill with Cabinet approval on 4 May 2021, as news broke that a global investment company had block purchased most of a new housing development in Maynooth. The result was an instantaneous revival of intense media and public scrutiny of the ongoing housing crisis. Speaking with Ciarán Galway, the Minister discusses his legislative priorities, first time buyers and ambition.

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To what extent have successive governments failed ‘generation rent’ and ‘generation stuck at home’?

home at the very heart of housing policy.

This Government have put delivery,

time buyer by almost a decade to 35

affordability and the chance to own your

years of age. Ireland has dropped from a

But it’s clear we have an ongoing affordability crisis. It has reduced home ownership rates to historic lows. It has increased the age of the average first

world leader to below the EU average rate of home ownership. A generation is caught in an unaffordable rent trap, and as Housing Minister I’m committed to finding genuine solutions to help those people. There are five main aspects to the


in June last year, I convened two top level groups to focus on urgent actions around homelessness and social and affordable housing delivery. These groups consist of high-level officials, and key stakeholders across homeless charities, approved housing bodies, the Housing Agency and local government. Through these groups, we are trying to accelerate successful exits from homelessness, keep delivery at the highest pace possible, work through any blockages, and understand and address challenges arising from Covid-19.

I believe the rent pressure zones (RPZs), introduced in 2016, which had a cap of 4 per cent on rent increases, became a target for some instead, these RPZs expire at the end of 2021 and I am working with my department on options for their replacement as part of an overall rent reform Bill which will be brought forward in the autumn.

Acknowledging that Covid-19 does present a massive challenge to delivery, in July 2020 we announced €40 million in funding as part of the Government’s stimulus programme for the refurbishment of 2,500 vacant social homes, which would be completed and allocated in 2020. This target was exceeded with 2,565 vacant social homes brought back into use across all our local authorities as a result of the voids stimulus. In total 3,607 vacant social homes were brought back into use nationally. Just recently (Friday 21 May 2021), we announced another voids programme with another 3,000 vacant social homes to be brought back into use this year.

The new cost rental model, which will deliver 440 homes this year and which we hope to significantly scale up in the coming years, will also mark a step change in the rental market. It’s a model where the tenant pays the cost of delivering, managing, and maintaining the homes only. It will be long-term secure tenure.

What has this government delivered in the housing brief in the last 10 months? Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, government has been focused on progressing major reforms that will accelerate and increase the supply of housing — public, affordable and private. Boosting supply is key to resolving so many of our housing challenges, whether it’s helping those experiencing homelessness into a permanent home, reducing the numbers on our social housing waiting lists, or addressing our affordability crisis. Immediately following my appointment

We’ve also taken a number of practical steps to speed up delivery, revising the single stage approval process for capital expenditure on social housing construction projects up to €6 million; a key commitment in the Programme for Government which means that local authorities will have greater autonomy in constructing social housing, leading to accelerated delivery. We increased the threshold on the Repair and Lease scheme from €40,000 to a maximum of €60,000 to assist in bringing vacant properties back into use for social housing purposes and we have substantially increased funding for Irish Water which will help to unlock

“A generation is caught in an unaffordable rent trap, and as Housing Minister I’m committed to finding genuine solutions to help those people.”

capacity for housing and development. In the past year, I have introduced four separate pieces of rent protection legislation, providing protections to those who need them most while the pandemic continues, and we are currently working on a rent reform Bill to be brought forward in the autumn. Cost rental, a model which has been talked about for a number of years, will see its first tenancies delivered this year, and will be delivered at scale in the coming years. So, government has clearly sent a message to those who are renting that we do acknowledge the uncertainty that it brings and that we are working to make it a secure form of tenure for those who want it.

Ireland’s housing magazine

Affordable Housing Bill 2021 including the first direct build affordable housing programme by our local authorities in over a decade, a new form of cost rental tenure, a targeted and time-bound shared equity scheme, an increase in the Part V provision from 10 per cent social to a flat 20 per cent social and affordable with a minimum 10 per cent social housing and the provision of an owner occupier guarantee which will allow local authorities to designate a certain percentage of houses and duplexes for individual buyers.

On homelessness we have made some progress but the situation remains challenging. Family homelessness is now at its lowest level since March 2016 and, thankfully, there has been an 80 per cent decrease in the numbers of families accommodated in hotels. But we need to keep doing all we can to support all those who are experiencing homelessness and we absolutely need to drive down the numbers experiencing homelessness, in particular in the numbers of single adults. Earlier this year, government announced a total of €1.3 billion in Urban Regeneration and Development Funding (URDF). At its core this fund aims to deliver more compact and sustainable development ensuring our urban areas become attractive and vibrant places in which to live, work, visit and invest. Since taking office, government has made the Affordable Housing Bill and the Land Development Agency Bill legislative priorities. Combined these two Bills will work together to give people the opportunity of ownership. They are landmark pieces of legislation and are backed up by the largest housing budget in the history of the State. The Government has made a commitment that everybody should have access to good-quality housing to purchase or rent at an affordable price, built to a high standard, and located close to essential services, offering a high quality of life. I’m focused on bringing measures in that are going to help us achieve that goal. There is no silver bullet, and we cannot fix our housing crisis overnight. But I’m confident that at that we’re going in the right direction.

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What are the objectives of the Affordable Housing Bill 2021?

Ireland’s housing magazine

The Affordable Housing Bill 2021 puts affordability back at the heart of the housing system and will reshape delivery of housing in Ireland. The Bill now has five key elements. It will provide for the first local authority-led, direct build affordable homes on State lands in more than a decade and our first ever national cost rental scheme. It also includes an innovative shared equity scheme and an expansion of Part V to help first time buyers. The rollout of local authority-led, direct build affordable housing will be the central plank of the Government's affordable housing plan. Units will range from €160,000 to €310,000 and the upcoming Housing For All plan, which will be published this summer, will set out the ambitious range of targets throughout the State over the coming years. Cost Rental has been much spoken about, but the Affordable Housing Bill finally puts this new and much needed tenure type on a firm legislative footing. This will help us deliver cost rental homes in the short term — we’ll see the first tenancies later this year — and into the future as we develop a more sustainable, affordable, high quality rental sector. The conversation around the Affordable

Housing Bill has at times zeroed in on the shared equity scheme. I welcome discussion, any scheme worth its salt has to stand up to scrutiny and take on board constructive suggestions but it will be a targeted, short-term measure designed to help people buy homes this year and boost housing supply. There are inactivated planning permissions for over 40,000 units in Dublin alone and 80,000 nationally — we need these permissions to be activated. To directly address the concerns raised around potential price inflation we have put in place regional price caps. These are price caps, not targets, they are the upper limit at which a person can avail of the scheme. They are based on evidence from the CSO median house price data and provide for a range of house types within them to reflect market demand. Ultimately, they help to capture as many new units as possible while mitigating against any inflationary effect. To put the scheme in context, it has been allocated €75 million, or 2.3 per cent of our €3.3 billion housing budget or 0.68 per cent of the overall €11 billion mortgage market. It is based on equity not debt with no obligation to buy it out so it is not a second mortgage and the macro prudential rules are fully protected. We are continuing to engage with the Central

“Since taking office, government has made the Affordable Housing Bill and the Land Development Agency Bill legislative priorities. Combined these two Bills will work together to give people the opportunity of ownership.”

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Bank on the scheme but I am confident it will offer those people who want to buy their own home this year a chance to do so. The decision to increase the Part V provision to 20 per cent — with 10 per cent social and 10 per cent affordable — repeals the 2015 decision to reduce Part V and further strengthens it by applying it across every local authority. In real terms, this will result in an additional 3,500 affordable units per annum when fully operational. Finally, the owner occupier guarantee which government has agreed to introduce, will allow local authorities designate a set amount of homes and duplexes (up to 50 per cent) for individual buyers into the future. Each of these measures demonstrate clearly that this government supports home ownership and wants to make it a reality.

Given the structural challenges which exist within the Irish housing market, what impact will the Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Loan Scheme have? The new Affordable Purchase Equity Scheme will be targeted, time and finance limited, and subject to regional price caps in order to immediately activate supply, counter any inflation


risk and unlock realisable demand. It will be targeted at first time buyers who are seeking to buy a new home, but who cannot quite secure the full mortgage amount to do so at the present time. It will immediately help up to 2,000 potential owners this year.

How will the Land Development Agency Bill 2021, coupled with the Affordable Housing Bill 2021 change how the LDA operates? The LDA is a historic new agency and it will be a driving force to deliver affordable homes at scale and ensure we don’t let State lands lie idle in the middle of an emergency. The LDA has the potential to be a game changer in making sure we use every acre of land owned by the State effectively. It will assess all State land in our large towns and cities and where it’s needed, develop them for social and affordable housing. House prices and cost rents will be set at an affordable level by geographic area by the Minister for Housing through regulations. This allows for local flexibility rather than a single rigid approach. The Bill, currently progressing in the Oireachtas, places the Agency on a statutory footing with legally set core goals of affordability and strategic land management. The Agency is already working on developing nine sites with local authorities on over 3,000 new homes. As I said earlier, increasing housing supply is a key objective for the Government and the LDA will play a key role in this regard.

How do you intend to “level the playing field” for first time buyers?

enacted swiftly so that people can

The Government is taking firm action to protect traditional family homes from bulk purchases while maintaining investment where it is needed. This will be done through an immediate stamp duty hike which was introduced by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe TD and longer-term planning permission changes made by my department.

committed to establishing a

We have already issued new planning guidelines by way of a departmental circular under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to require local authorities and An Bord Pleanála to prohibit bulk buying of houses and duplexes and we will be making an amendment to the Affordable Housing Bill to include the “owner occupier guarantee” allowing local authorities designate a set amount of homes and duplexes (up to 50 per cent) for individual buyers into the future.

harnessing the expertise and

These actions were taken swiftly in response to the very understandable frustration and anger at investment funds buying homes and crowding first time buyers out of the market. But these measures alone are not a silver bullet. They complement other government supports like direct build of affordable homes by local authorities, the expanded Help to Buy scheme and the new shared equity scheme to help level the playing field for first time buyers and turn generation rent into a generation that can own their home.

support needs with housing and the

What do you hope to achieve over the next 12 months in your remit as Housing Minister?

be published in the autumn. There is a

In the immediate term, I want to see the Affordable Housing Bill and the LDA Bill

challenge is a matter of moral urgency

Ireland’s housing magazine

The scheme will allow people who are currently paying more in rent than a mortgage would cost, to buy their first home. It’s the difference between them continuing to pay rent while trying to save every other cent over the next few years, and being able to purchase a home and pay down a mortgage this year. Again, to put the scheme in context, it has been allocated €75 million, or 2.3 per cent of our €3.3 billion housing budget or 0.68 per cent of the overall €11 billion mortgage market. Taken in tandem with the other measures in the Affordable Housing Bill it will incentivise new builds for new buyers in right places at right price points.

“There is a lot more involved in this crisis than just the future of a single political party or government. Getting to grips with the challenge is a matter of moral urgency and civic duty.” reach their goal of home ownership this year. The Government has also Commission on Housing and this forum will examine a range of issues from tenures and standards to the quality-oflife issues in the provision of housing. We have been clear that we will use every tool in our armoury to tackle our housing crisis and this involves experiences of others — I hope to have this Commission established shortly. I also want us to continue to drive down homeless numbers. In 2020 alone, almost 5,900 such exits from homelessness have been achieved. All these exits were to homes with tenancies. This work must continue in earnest. We are working on expanding the Housing First initiative, which provides homeless people with high wraparound supports required to maintain their tenancy. There are now over 500 active Housing First tenancies nationwide, and the success rate of these tenancies shows us that the approach is working. Two very significant pieces of legislation are currently being worked on, one in relation to rental protections and tenure and the other in relation to planning. It is my intention that both will lot more involved in this crisis than just the future of a single political party or government. Getting to grips with the and civic duty.

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Ageing in place Ciarán Galway speaks with Aoife Flynn Kennedy, Head of Clann about collaborating in the era of Covid to deliver age-friendly housing. A component of Clúid Housing, Clann was established in January 2020 as an age-friendly housing body with a vision for “a society where everyone has a great place to live”, which it aims to deliver through the provision of “quality housing and services to enable people to create homes and thriving communities”.

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Clann’s primary ambition is the delivery of enhanced age-friendly housing options for those aged 55 and over and the housing body is already delivering the largest age-friendly social housing development programme in Ireland. One of the main factors informing this programme is Ireland’s ageing population. “The population has grown progressively older since the 1980s,” Flynn Kennedy notes, adding: “By 2030, we’re going to have 20 per cent of the population aged over-65 and by 2050, there will be one million people over the age of 65.” In response, Clann is proactively planning ahead to mitigate potential

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future housing shortages through the timely delivery of more age-friendly and appropriate housing, enabling people to continue to live independently for as long as possible.

design, the principles of which are independence and autonomy, to ensure the accessibility and adaptability of a dwelling as a person’s circumstances change.

“There have been many conversations about the housing crisis in general, but this particular age group has specific needs which have been neglected. Therefore, Clúid Housing undertook a survey of residents who were living in what was previously classed as ‘housing for older people’. Those residents identified a requirement for specific housing to meet their needs. Allied to this is the increasingly popular concept of age-friendly housing and ageing in place. Subsequently, these factors informed Clúid Housing’s decision to establish Clann,” the Head of Clann explains.

As well as the physical space, agefriendly housing considers the importance of a dwelling’s location. For instance, complemented by a cognisance of connection with community, Clann schemes are located near shops and other amenities.

Age-friendly housing Age-friendly housing is distinct from traditional sheltered housing for older people. It is informed by universal

“Access to Clann schemes extends from those aged 55 and beyond. The objective is to enable people to live independently for as long as possible. We are also focused on enabling people to maintain the connection they have with their community. “The over-55 cohort includes people with the most skills, the most experience, and the greatest ability to give something back to the community. We want them in the heart of the community where they can contribute,” Flynn Kennedy adds.


While seeking to ensure that people ‘rightsize’ at the right time, Clann also aims to ensure that they do so in the right place. “If I have grown up in a town all my life and then I want to rightsize, then I want to do so within that same town. I don’t want to have to move somewhere else and disconnect from my circle of support.

Exceptional standards While the Head of Clann acknowledges that some people might have a preconceived idea about social housing being a substandard level of accommodation, Broome Lodge in Cabra, Dublin (pictured) is an archetypal scheme which gives lie to that notion. “Each of Clann’s schemes across the country are exceptional and they really challenge the perception of what social housing is,” she indicates. Indeed, at the annual all-island Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) awards in 2020, Clann was nominated for an award to recognise its promotion of age equality in housing. Clann was also shortlisted for three CIH awards in 2021. Subsequently, Michael Lynch, a resident from the Ard Carrig scheme in Cork and chair of the Clann Residents Advisory Group, won the Housing Hero of the Year award in recognition of his achievements in the past year.

“As a musician, Michael led on a Zoom music session initiative and he won the award for the work he has done in his own community, as well as on a wider scale when the pandemic hit. Michael asked for the events to be programmed and then took control of its delivery. Michael personifies what Clann is about.”

The over-55 cohort includes people with the most skills, the most experience, and the greatest ability to give something back to the community. We want them in the heart of the community where they can contribute. Choice For many older people, their current accommodation is unsuited to their needs, according to Flynn Kennedy. For example, the bathroom is upstairs, there is no downstairs bedroom or there are steps at the entrance. Recognising that if people are provided with adequate supports in an environment conducive to independent living, then nursing home care is not necessarily an inevitability, Clann has identified a gap in the market. “Nursing home care will always have a place and it is not to say that choosing a nursing home is a bad option. Rather, having to choose a nursing home because you have no other choice is wrong. “Unfortunately, at the moment, that’s not a choice that everyone has. We want to ensure that there are Clann schemes available in all counties so that people can make those decisions. To do this we work with our partners such as Age Friendly Ireland, Alone and the local authorities. There is real interest in this area, so we will continue this work in coming years,” the Head of Clann insists.

Independence Many Clann residents emphasise the

benefits of making personal decisions about who can access their home, how they spend their free time and whether they continue to work. Likewise, the Head of Clann identifies this element of true independence and autonomy as one major difference when compared with traditional sheltered housing for older people. “This allows people to age in place, to stay in their own home and to avoid moving because their needs have changed. The home or the wider scheme is built in a way that changes with them. “If a resident needs support, each Clann site has a Scheme Manager whose role is to signpost and assist access to services in the community. They don’t provide healthcare supports and they don’t do people’s shopping, but our Scheme Managers can link residents into services in the community. We class it as fully independent living. Like you and I, Clann residents want the freedom to make decisions about their own lives,” she asserts.

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“On the night, he was the only resident from all the nominated organisations who won an award. That is what Clann is about. Our role is to work in the background, providing the assistance required so that our residents can lead the way in the delivery of the service. They are experts and better understand their needs than anybody else.

Ireland’s housing magazine

“As Clann schemes expand into more towns and villages, more people can have that choice. While leaving a family home containing years of memories can provoke some nervousness, our residents have articulated the benefits of doing so, including enhanced security and the absence of fuel poverty.”

Resident input Clann places significant emphasis on the voice of residents and ensuring that it delivers its service through a partnership

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Acknowledging the challenges posed by Covid since March 2020, Flynn Kennedy pays tribute to the resilience of the Clann residents and the efforts of her colleagues. “Since the onset of the pandemic, our residents have exhibited the depth of their resilience. It was tough, yet we opened new schemes and added new homes. These were challenging undertakings during the pandemic. However, with the expertise of the Clann team, we delivered. “Similarly, we received significant support from communities across the country. The community call that was set up in each of the local authorities undertook the collection of prescriptions, the delivery of food, and the production of hampers,” she says.

Clann doesn’t merely look at the house that the person is living in, it also looks at the person that is living in the house. At all times we are led by the individual.

approach. Consequently, during the Covid lockdown, the housing body established the Clann Residents Advisory Group. “We worked with Community Action Network and undertook online training with a number of volunteer residents, reflecting the objectives of the Residents Advisory Group. This meant understanding missions, values and how they were going to have their voice heard, ensuring that they were part of delivering the service,” Flynn Kennedy indicates.

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Clann also conducts residents’ surveys. One comprehensive survey of Clann residents during the lockdown returned an 85 per cent satisfaction rate. “Given the year that we have all had, that is fairly significant,” she adds.

Pivoting online

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As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Clann was forced to relocate its Scheme Managers offsite and integrate a programme of remote working. The move to online exposed a digital gap that was a challenge for Clann residents.

“We did face many challenges. For instance, we were introduced to the word ‘cocooning’ which, reflecting the mood of the wider world, did not sit well with our residents at all. Telling someone that because they are a certain age that they should stay indoors and not see other people was a challenging concept for many people,” the Head of Clann reflects. Simultaneously, however, the agefriendly housing body benefited from greater links with partners such as Alone, which alongside Vodafone, provided smartphones to residents. “This enabled us to link in with more technologically literate residents. Our community events then moved offsite and online. Residents hosted Zoom events throughout the pandemic, including music sessions, yoga and everything in between,” she remarks. “We also linked in with Safe Home Ireland which is an organisation which brings older people back to Ireland from abroad. We brought four people home from England and one from the USA who emigrated many years ago and now, in their later stages of life, wanted to return to their country of birth.”

Maintaining a connection and engagement Overall, improved housing options and the provision of community services go hand in glove. “I think that’s where our plan has excelled. Clann doesn’t merely look at the house that the person is living in, it also looks at the person that is living in the house. At all times we are led by the individual. “It’s about retaining the sense of autonomy which we grow accustomed to before reaching a certain point in our lives whereby people suddenly don’t believe that we should have that autonomy anymore. Clann is challenging that misconception and arguing that it doesn’t really matter what age a person might be, independence and security continue to be important. Clann seeks to create an environment which facilitates this,” Flynn Kennedy explains. Within Clann schemes, a 24/7 emergency response is installed in each home. Likewise, scheme managers undertake wellbeing calls and check ins. When the Covid-19 pandemic transpired, therefore, Clann was well positioned to ensure that each resident’s requirements were being met, as per their personally defined needs. Much of what scheme managers do is informal. The majority of their work is focused on the wellbeing of individuals and ensuring that they are connected. This is a more difficult task in the absence of face-to-face interaction. Moving things online, however, meant that travel was no longer an issue and it negated mobility requirements. This meant that friendships developed between people in disparate locations


and contact was maintained beyond Zoom events.

Ireland’s housing magazine

“As we seek to emerge from the pandemic, one of the lessons we have learnt is that the online element of the service we provide will need to continue. Our residents have become much more technologically literate and we have witnessed an unprecedented migration to online banking and people embracing new technologies that they never anticipated. That will continue going forward, though we are really looking forward to getting back to normality and face-to-face interaction,” the Head of Clann affirms.

Ambitions Clann has an ambitious growth programme scheduled for the next two years. At the moment, the housing body has approximately 800 homes across Ireland, with an additional 800 due to come onstream by the end of 2022. “That will be our primary focus. We know that there are many people over55 who have been waiting on housing lists in some local authority areas for over 10 years. The supply of one bedroom accommodation has not been to the forefront, however this is now changing. There also hasn’t been the focus on universal design as a basic principle for housing. As such, we have many people who are in real need of a home,” she highlights. Amplifying the voice of Clann residents is another major priority. During lockdown, the housing body collaborated with Two Moons, an EU funded programme which prioritises social inclusion for older people. The programme educates people in that age bracket about their human rights; what they are and how to assert them.

Partnerships However, Flynn Kennedy acknowledges that age-friendly housing cannot be delivered in isolation and Clann is actively seeking partnerships and collaboration. “We can deliver the physical homes and ensure that they are

Crediting the local authorities for their support in developing Clann’s schemes and providing funding for the development of gardens, the delivery of exercise classes and an array of additional projects, Flynn Kennedy indicates that the applications for

funding often originate from residents’ associations within the schemes. At the same time, developers have shown great interest in Clann schemes. “We pursue design and build or buy directly and we have observed an increase in developers considering agefriendly housing as an option. We have a design guide outlining what Clann requires in a scheme in terms of universal design, communal space and the principles that define an age-friendly housing scheme. Certainly, if that is what a developer can provide then we are interested in having conversations with them,” she concludes.

Profile: Aoife Flynn Kennedy, Head of Clann With over 20 years’ experience in housing services, disability rights and community engagement, Aoife Flynn Kennedy was appointed as Head of

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“Our staff have undertaken the Two Moons training this year and Clann will roll it out across all schemes, in collaboration with residents on the Clann Residents Advisory Group in the year ahead. It’s going to be a busy year for Clann and we’re hoping for the restrictions to be lifted so that we can get out there,” Flynn Kennedy suggests.

constructed in a manner which makes them accessible and enables people to age in place. However, life is not just about the roof over our head; it is also about our engagement with the wider community and that is where we see the partnerships being hugely important. We work in partnership with communities to make and maintain connections,” she says.

Clann in January 2020. Prior to her current role, Flynn Kennedy worked for seven years in the disability sector, supporting people in their move from congregated settings into their own homes. Before that, she worked for three different local authorities in the areas of housing, access, and equality. Outside of work, she is a community activist and is involved locally in addiction services, establishing Bray as the next autism friendly town and she chairs a local approved housing body (AHB) as well. 11


Ireland’s housing magazine

Time to think beyond the house: A critical response to the climate and biodiversity crises consumption in our houses. A wider community approach that goes beyond the house and recognises the profound connection between housing, the economy, society, and the environment is required. This approach is framed by Ireland’s obligations under international treaties such as the Paris Agreement, EU policies on climate action, the National Climate Action Plan and the newly published Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 which is currently going through the Oireachtas. Ireland’s target is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 and become a ‘climate resilient, biodiversity rich, environmentally sustainable and climate neutral economy’ by 2050. Aoife Corcoran

John O’Connor

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Covid-19 required radical action, but our climate and biodiversity emergencies need us to make long-term change to our lives to ensure sustainable futures for all, write Aoife Corcoran, Sustainability Advisor, and John O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer, The Housing Agency. Are the houses and communities we build now equipped for the long term? The climate and biodiversity crises threaten our very way of life, as well as the lives of future generations. We need to put action on climate and biodiversity at the heart of every decision we make

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in relation to housing and sustainable communities. For years, experts have looked to our homes as a way in which we can make meaningful change. However, climate action should and must go beyond retrofitting and reducing energy

Understanding the problem The first step in making meaningful change is to understand the problem which needs to be addressed. Buildings are responsible for about 40 per cent of the EU’s total energy consumption, and for 36 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions from energy. Housing currently accounts for 10.9 per cent of national greenhouse gas emissions. Ireland has consistently been among the highest producers of greenhouse gas emissions from household heating and cooling activities. Our emissions level is 1.8 times that of the EU average, substantially higher than comparable levels in other northern European countries.


The way we heat our homes in the face of a climate crisis is a significant challenge for Ireland. Increasing public demand for affordable housing, as well as an ageing housing stock and a dispersed population, make it more difficult for many to transition to more sustainable heating sources.

We have the means to limit climate change and build a more prosperous, sustainable future. Recognising the need for the housing sector to reduce carbon emissions, the question is ‘What can we do?’. We now have a responsibility to incorporate climate action in all the strands of housing policy. We need to embrace the contribution that sustainable housing can make to achieving a range of policy goals, including objectives of the National Planning Framework, reducing energy and transport poverty, and improving biodiversity. Our actions also need to be led by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing, the European Green Deal, and Ireland’s National Climate Action Plan to ensure that housing will be put on a more resilient and sustainable path. Five key areas of climate action for housing are: • building resilient and sustainable communities focused on high density, highly connected, good quality homes; • the rapid roll-out of retrofitting and energy efficiency measures; • embracing the circular economy in all elements of housing provision; • designing and managing housing for biodiversity; and

Resilient and sustainable communities Building resilient and sustainable communities must be at the forefront of everything we do in the housing sector to address the climate crisis and biodiversity crisis. Housing should be

11 per cent of emissions come from embodied carbon, or ‘upfront’ carbon, associated with construction materials and process throughout the building lifecycle. • Household management: current housing stock is around two million homes. Greenhouse gas emissions – ‘operational carbon’ – from household heating activities in Ireland have been among the highest in the EU for the last 10 years. • Housing demolition: housing obsolescence in Ireland varies by location, and time period, but is currently estimated to be between 0.2 per cent and 0.3 per cent. End of life carbon emissions from the housing sector in Ireland have not been calculated to date. However, carbon emissions associated with the demolition, transport from site, waste processing, and disposal phases of a building are acknowledged as contributing to Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions.

planned, constructed, and managed with the recognition of the profound connection between housing, the economy, society and the environment.

improve quality of life while contributing

Key to sustainable housing and communities is the issue of density and compact growth. In 2017, transport accounted for almost one-fifth of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions. While more remote working postpandemic may have some positive effects, it alone is not enough to offset the major impact that long commutes have on our country’s carbon footprint. Reducing our reliance on private cars by locating homes close to public transport and essential amenities, where active modes of transport are facilitated will

quality, coupled with the facilities and

to a sustainable future. Provision of a range of housing options focused on higher density and good infrastructure residents require in their

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• thinking beyond the four walls of the homes.

• Housing provision: in 2020, there were 21,000 new dwelling completions and around 19,000 are likely for 2021.

Ireland’s housing magazine

Putting climate at the heart of housing

Carbon emissions in the Irish housing sector come from:

daily lives, can lead to the regeneration of existing villages and towns to places with a better, more climate-friendly quality of life. Empowering communities, providing good walking and cycling infrastructure and prioritising developments that are close to public transport, shops, schools and other services, are all actions we in the housing sector can take to help create more sustainable areas.

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How Ireland can create resilient and sustainable communities:

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• Think beyond the housing estate and deliver a variety of good quality housing options in towns, villages and cities supported by proper infrastructure. • Co-create good places for people to live and work, with convenient and connected infrastructure, appropriate access to green space, and economic opportunities. • Ensure that viable public transport options are available, and active modes of travel are facilitated eliminating the need for cars for many.

Energy efficiency and retrofitting Energy efficiency and retrofitting has become the main policy response to reducing CO2 emissions from buildings across the globe. Ireland has ambitious targets in this area. In order to reduce emissions in line with national and international targets, Ireland’s building stock will need to be highly energy

Achieving this target will require retrofitting 500,000 homes to a BER level of B2 or cost optimal equivalent or carbon equivalent; and local authorities upgrading their housing stock under Phase 2 of the social housing retrofit programme to bring dwellings to the same minimum level. Ireland now needs to rapidly progress with meeting these targets across all tenures of the housing sector.

efficient and largely decarbonised by 2050. This will mean ensuring that new developments are built to at least a nearly zero-energy building (NZEB) standard, and the retrofitting of the majority of existing buildings. As set out in the National Climate Action Plan, one of the key measures to achieve GHG emission reductions and a net zero target in Ireland by 2050 is to retrofit all homes with insulation to a

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Building Energy Rating (BER) of at least B2. This commitment is reiterated in the 2020 Programme for Government and will be achieved through the Long-Term Renovation Strategy. Ireland’s Climate Action Plan has set out a detailed roadmap for the period 2021 to 2030 with the objective of reducing CO2 equivalent emissions from the built environment by 40 per cent to 45 per cent.

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Circular economy Carbon emissions associated with the demolition, transport from site, waste processing, and disposal phases of a building are acknowledged as contributing to Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions. Construction and demolition waste accounts for over five million tonnes of waste annually. 80 per cent of the construction and demolition waste is soil and stone and 20 per cent concrete, brick, tiles, metal, glass, wood, plastic, and metal. As outlined in the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy published in 2020, it is imperative that prevention and reuse is hardwired into construction activity within the housing sector. To do this the housing sector needs to embrace a circular economy approach to construction and demolition whereby:

• waste and resource use are minimised; • the value of products and materials is maintained for as long as possible through good design, durability, and repair; and • when a product has reached the end of its life, its parts are used again and again to create further useful products.

Biodiversity In addition to climate, we also have a biodiversity crisis. A global decline in biodiversity puts the very foundation of human existence at risk because this loss is irreversible. The housing sector has a significant influence on the diversity of ecosystems which exist within our local environments. Therefore, our actions need to encourage positive steps towards creating, maintaining, and increasing biodiversity both on buildings themselves and in their environments. Positive steps we can take now include: • embedding nature-based solutions into our new and existing housing stock; • developing and implementing a biodiversity strategy which expands upon the commitments as set out in the current Programme for Government, which includes the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly on biodiversity; and • embracing the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2021–2025, a roadmap that aims to help bees, other pollinating insects, and our wider biodiversity. The plan contains 186 actions aimed at making private, public and farmland more pollinator friendly, conserving rare pollinators and developing an all-Ireland honeybee strategy.

Future opportunities The Covid-19 pandemic changed all our daily lives. The crisis required ambitious and urgent action to be taken to save lives. That same level of ambition and urgency is now required to deal with a climate and biodiversity crises that, if not addressed, will lead to the destruction of communities and ecosystems here and around the world.


Already, countries across the world have felt the effects of climate change and, for Ireland, that impact has often been devastating, from severe flooding to life-threatening storms. The biodiversity crisis has left Ireland with one in every five species is threatened with extinction.

Ireland’s housing magazine

The threat of rising temperatures and even more devastating weather events in the coming years present a huge challenge to which the world must rise. Ireland has a responsibility to play its part. Indeed, as a relatively prosperous

An outline design sketch of the Climate-Smart Pocket Neighbourhood proposed for Cloughjordan, County Tipperary. Credit: Caelan Bristow.

nation, we can take on a leading role in this climate revolution. As with each crisis there are opportunities. Covid-19 has refocused us on the values of good quality housing, access to nature and green space, and the importance of building communities where people can live, work, access services within walking

Case Study: Cloughjordan Co-Housing In Tipperary, Cloughjordan Co-Housing CLG is prototyping a ‘Climate-Smart Pocket Neighbourhood’. A total of 20 homes are being developed as part of the project, which it is hoped will be completed in 2023.

distance of their homes. By expanding our efforts in these areas, we can be leaders in addressing the climate crisis.

The Housing Agency is a state agency whose role is to promote the supply of housing to meet current and future housing needs and demand. It does this by building expertise and expert

Cloughjordan Co-Housing will use permaculture design, energy efficiency and smart technologies to mitigate the effects of climate change and provide a safe and healthy environment for its residents. The area will comprise a range of homes, from studio apartments to family houses, as well as shared green areas and workspaces, built using ecological and recycled materials.

knowledge on housing, supporting housing policy development and implementing effective housing programmes in collaboration with others. T: 01 656 4100 E: info@housingagency.ie W: www.housingagency.ie

This will link community benefits with health, solidarity, and climate action. The project is to be located within Cloughjordan Ecovillage near WeCreate, the community enterprise centre where the group is based.

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The group aims to demonstrate a model of collective ownership, which will suit people who seek a stronger sense of place, and a more supportive and sustainable place to live. Cloughjordan Co-Housing features in the publication series Roadmapping a viable Community-Led Housing Sector for Ireland, by SOA Research CLG. You can read the series at soa.ie.

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Eoin Ó Broin TD: A paradigm shift Following the formation of the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green Party coalition government in July 2020, Sinn Féin has operated as its chief opposition, quickly identifying housing as its opponents’ Achilles heel. Ciarán Galway sits down with Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin to discuss ‘generation rent’, homelessness and international investment. Credit: Sinn Féin

Even before authoring Home: Why Public Housing is the Answer in 2019, the Sinn Féin TD had distinguished himself as one of his party’s leading policymakers. Framed by a virtual backdrop of the Cité Radieuse in Marseilles — Le Corbusier’s most famous modernist residential building — Eoin Ó Broin affirms that it acts as a reminder that “public housing should be the best housing”. Contextualising the current phase of Ireland’s housing crisis, the lead opposition housing spokesperson highlights several significant changes. Firstly, throughout the February 2020 general election, housing became the

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predominant concern for the electorate. “That general public attentiveness to the issue of housing and the desire and demand for change in housing is still very much there and is growing,” Ó Broin asserts. Secondly, house prices and rents have continued to increase. A consequence of what he suggests are “government housing policy failures”, including “underinvestment in social housing; no delivery of affordable housing to rent or to buy to date; and the wrong kinds of fiscal policies in terms of what kind of private sector investment is attracted”. Thirdly, the Covid-19 crisis has had a

dual impact on housing. The first is that emergency Covid legislation, introduced by former Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, banning evictions, notices to quit and rent increases led to “the most dramatic decrease in family homelessness that we have seen since the start of that crisis”. The second is that the shutdown of the construction industry has produced a significant reduction in supply.

‘Generation rent’ While acknowledging that the house crisis is, in part, generational, Ó Broin emphasises that groups other than


‘generation rent’ — the locked-out generation of first-time buyers — must also be considered.

“We are very fearful that you are going to see rent warnings and notices to quit working their way through the system. I don’t think there is going to be an overnight reversal, but I do think it is highly likely, given the fact that there has been a decline in rental stock, given the fact that a lot of people are Covid impacted but might be hit with a notice to quit for something other than rent

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“The largest group of people most negatively affected by housing policies over the last number of decades are clearly younger people. Younger people are less able to buy, they’re paying higher rents, they’re waiting longer for social housing and therefore, there is very clearly an age element to this. We can’t discount that.

Fianna Fáil Minister, Darragh O’Brien, took over and he replaced [it] with two things. A more specified ban on evictions, not on rent increases, tied to Level 5 restrictions under the Government’s Covid plan… and a more cumbersome mechanism whereby if you are in arrears and if those arrears are caused by loss of income due to Covid19 and if you’re on a Covid-19 related

“However, the point I would stress is we have a very large number of people, for example, who lost their family homes due to repossession following the crash of the Celtic Tiger. We have a very significant number of people, including people in their 50s and early 60s, who have lost their family homes due to relationship breakdown. There are people who are trapped in small, inappropriate Celtic Tiger apartments, in negative equity and haven’t been able to trade up because of the situation they are in. Of course, we still have groups of other people who have always been marginalised in our housing system: the long-term homeless; Travellers; people with disabilities etcetera,” he insists.

Homelessness Meanwhile, as a consequence of emergency government legislation in the early phase of the Covid crisis, the number of people accessing emergency accommodations and presenting to homeless services has continued to decline since Q4 2019. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage’s Homeless Quarterly Progress Report for Quarter 1 suggests that at 8,060 individuals, this is the lowest number of homeless individuals recorded since June 2017. When introduced by Eoghan Murphy, the policy intervention successfully stemmed the flow of families into homelessness. Highlighting that his party has been calling for a ban on evictions into homelessness for several years, the Sinn Féin TD recalls the counterargument which posed that such a move would be unconstitutional. Now, as a result of subsequent amendments to the emergency legislation by current Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien TD, Ó Broin argues that “there are virtually no protections for renters, other than a very small cohort”. “The general ban ended when the

Credit: Sinn Féin

“It’s not that Sinn Féin is against private investment, private housing or private home ownership, we want a much more balanced housing system with a balanced mix, because the overreliance on the private sector has created a dysfunctional housing system.” payment and if you submit a written declaration to the Residential Tenancies Board, you get a protection from eviction and rent increases,” the TD for Dublin Mid-West explains. Upon emerging from Level 5 restrictions in April 2021, the ban on evictions was removed while the second protective mechanism remains in operation. “The overwhelming majority of tenants have no protections currently. Whereas Eoghan Murphy introduced those blanket bans and they were good policy, Darragh O’Brien has stripped them away bit-by-bit.

arrears, such as sale of property, that we could actually start to see an increase again in both family and single [person] homelessness as we get into the autumn and winter of this year,” Ó Broin argues.

Objections The most frequent criticism levelled against Sinn Féin and its housing policy by political opponents is that it has objected to multiple proposed social housing developments across Dublin. This something that Ó Broin forcibly rejects.

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“The claim is absolutely false,” he says, adding: “Let me be very clear, there isn’t a single social or affordable housing project anywhere in Dublin that Sinn Féin has opposed when it has come to a vote in a council. Not a single one. I can stand over that without equivocation.

Ireland’s housing magazine

“When the Government is saying that [Sinn Féin] is objecting to housing, it is actually talking about proposals either to gift land for free to developers, sell land to developers or rezone land from industrial brownfield to residential without any conditions.” The Sinn Féin TD identifies four “very controversial proposed land transfers” which his party opposed; two within Dublin City Council and two within South Dublin County Council. “We want all of those sites developed and we want them as fully public sites with a mixture of social, affordable rental and affordable purchase. The difficulty is that when you gift those sites to a developer, as happened [with O’Devaney Gardens] in Dublin City Council, 50 per cent of the homes on those sites will be sold on open market at unaffordable prices. “That is not an acceptable use of public land. In my own constituency, in Clondalkin, the council sold land to a private developer because government wouldn’t give the council the money to develop it. Whilst South Dublin County Council did get market value for the land, the problem is that 70 per cent of the homes will be sold at open market; a few will have a little discount but not in any way that you could call ‘affordable’.

“[Sinn Féin’s] concern is that public land is a scarce resource. We want to ensure that it is used to meet the housing crisis that is out there. Gifting or selling land, when it results in reducing the volume of genuinely affordable homes for working people, is not good policy and I have no problem saying that we did the right thing is those votes.”

Opposition What then have Ó Broin and his party done to address the housing crisis from the opposition benches? There are three strands to this, he replies. “Firstly, I have tabled eight pieces of legislation in the last 10 months. Two have actually passed without government opposition, two were opposed by government and the other four are on the Order Paper or with the Office of Parliamentary Legal Advice. “Of the two that passed, one was the Homeless Prevention Bill 2020, to oblige local authorities to have a homeless prevention plan 60 days in advance of a family becoming homeless, and the second was the Residential Tenancies (Student Rents and Other Protections) (Covid-19) Bill 2021 to protect student renters both from Covid-19 related rental income loss with some other protections as well. They are now going to committee.” Secondly, alongside the drafting of legislation, Ó Broin emphasises Sinn Féin’s role in holding government to account. “For instance, much of the public commentary on the shared equity scheme, the pro-developer scheme that

Darragh O’Brien has introduced, is because of the Opposition’s work. It was my Freedom of Information requests which revealed that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform was against it. Likewise, it was the request of myself and other opposition TDs that ensured that the ESRI and the Central Bank were brought before the Housing Committee, in person and in written form, to give their views on it,” he reasons. The final strand, Ó Broin argues, is “proposing real alternatives”. Highlighting Sinn Féin’s publication of a consultation document on the affordable housing plan followed by a detailed affordable housing plan full of costings and targets in September 2020, he states: “In our alternative budgets, we have repeatedly outlined how we would double capital investment in the public delivery of homes and how that would allow the delivery of up to 20,000 social and affordable homes to meet social, affordable rental and affordable purchase needs. On a whole range of other issues, we are constantly publishing very detailed policy documents and financial documents to show that there is a better way. “Certainly, our record in terms of legislation, of holding government to account and especially in terms of proposing real alternatives stands to us and I think that’s the reason why we did so well in the [general] election and we have continued to hold and, in some instances, increase our support since February 2020.”

“Let me be very clear, there isn’t a single social or affordable housing project anywhere in Dublin that Sinn Féin has opposed when it has come to a vote in a council.”

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Investment Almost in tandem with the publication of the Affordable Housing Bill, the bulk purchase of 170 homes at Mullen Park estate in Maynooth by a London-based global investment firm evaporated the fog of the Covid pandemic, revealing the continuing housing crisis and renewing public anger. Ó Broin argues that advantageous tax conditions implemented by former Finance Minister Michael Noonan in 2013 to attract international investment to deal with distressed commercial assets, amid the fallout from the banking crisis and the property crash, have enabled investors to migrate into residential development, distorting the housing market.

the private sector delivery, but it would be better.”

“Because of my political work both in

Of the 34,000 to 40,000 new homes required by the State each year, Sinn Féin’s view is that half must be publicly funded, non-market homes. That means that the other half must be private homes financed by private investors.

number one issue and Clondalkin where

north Belfast where housing was the housing is the number one issue, my last five years as housing spokesperson and also my work with one of the country’s leading homelessness NGOs, I have come to understand that the only way

“The problem is that government policy has incentivised high-yield, short-term investors to come into finance development and the model then is for low-yield, long-term investors to buy up that development afterwards. That’s bad in two ways. It pushes up development costs and it pushes up price at the development stage and that means that even when the long-term, low-yield investor comes in, the price is too high,” he observes. The solution, he suggests, is to reform our planning system “so that if you are a developer and you are applying for planning permission, you have to stipulate what type of development this is in terms of tenure, as well as topology, design and style” before local authorities can then make “an evidencebased assessment as to what is needed”. Acknowledging that this would only solve this problem for future planning applications, the opposition spokesperson suggests: “We would need some emergency legislation to allow a local authority to step in and say, well no, that proposed bulk purchase cannot take place.” Secondly, Ó Broin argues for a change to the tax advantages in order to attract a different type of investor. “What I would like to see in the private sector is the State activating the long-term, lowyield investor coming in at the start. I think that will constrain development costs and constrain price… Therefore, we would still have private investment in

“Some of those will be banks and institutional investors, including pension funds and they will be developed by private developers on privately owned land. The issue then is what kind of investor, what kind of developer and what kind of homes. “It’s not that Sinn Féin is against private investment, private housing or private home ownership, we want a much more balanced housing system with a balanced mix, because the overreliance on the private sector has created a dysfunctional housing system where almost 70 per cent of people who are new household formations cannot put a secure and affordable roof over their heads. We need a far greater level of State intervention,” Ó Broin responds.

Ambition Ó Broin is unconvinced that the current government can de-commodify housing in Ireland. “I’m not saying that because I’m the opposition; if Darragh O’Brien comes forward with a really good piece of legislation to tackle this, he will have my support. My problem is, I think [the Government] is wedded to a very narrow way of thinking about housing policy which is low public investment in terms of the overall quantum of investment that is taking place in the housing system and an overreliance on the private sector. So long as that prevails in Government Buildings, we’re going to have a problem,” he remarks. While acknowledging that the cause and consequences of the crisis will not be resolved overnight, the Sinn Féin housing spokesperson wants to supplant the prevailing policy consensus. “I have been a housing activist for my entire political life,” he says, elaborating:

Ireland’s housing magazine

“I have come to understand that the only way we tackle the housing crisis and meet people’s housing needs is with a paradigm shift.” we tackle the housing crisis and meet people’s housing needs is with a paradigm shift. “We need to dramatically change the direction of housing policy from the consensus that was put in place in the early 1990s. This is the moment for that paradigm shift. The public wants it. The investment climate is right. The institutions of the State could be properly aligned to deliver it. Therefore, this is one of those unique moments where political will, popular demand and availability of investment capital, particularly for the public sector, are all in the right place. There is a small window of opportunity.” However, the allure of a ministerial portfolio does not necessarily correlate with Ó Broin’s aspirations. While acknowledging that if offered “the honour”, he would grasp it with two hands, he is adamant that he would not participate in a government “that is not serious about fixing the housing crisis”. “If there is an offer of participation in government, where none of that is possible, I’m not interested. I only want to fix the problem, not sit in an office in the Custom House because it has a big salary and prestige, I’d happily forgo the entire salary for an opportunity to fix the crisis. If I get that opportunity, I will do everything I can to try to implement the ideas that I have outlined,” he concludes.

Published by Merrion Press, Eoin Ó Broin’s Defects: Living with the legacy of the Celtic Tiger will be released in September 2021, followed by Dignity of Everyday Life: Michael Scott's Busáras in December.

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Now is the time to prepare your AHB for statutory regulation Regulatory functions

The board members have extensive experience in housing, finance, law, and governance and were appointed following a process conducted by the Public Appointments Service. Detailed biographies of all board members are available on the AHBRA website www.ahbregulator.ie. Susanna Lyons was appointed as CEO of AHBRA by the Minister on establishment day.

Regulatory functions of AHBRA

The Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA) was established on 1 February 2021 by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH), Darragh O’Brien TD. AHBRA was established to oversee the

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effective governance, financial management and performance of all voluntary and co-operative housing bodies, in accordance with the legal framework set out in the Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Act 2019 (the Act). The powers and functions of AHBRA will be commenced on a phased basis throughout 2021 and 2022, with AHBRA anticipated to become operational in early 2022. 20

The Minister appointed nine-members to the board of the AHBRA in February 2021, with Edward Lewis appointed as Chairperson. The remaining eight Board members are named below: John McCarthy; Jillian Mahon; Seamus Neely; Oonagh Breen; Eileen Gleeson; Michael Cameron; Geraldine Hynes; and Orla Coyne.

The Regulator will have responsibility for establishing and maintaining a register of approved housing bodies (AHBs), preparing standards by which AHBs will be monitored and assessed, and encouraging and facilitating the better governance, administration, and management, including corporate governance and financial management of AHBs. The Regulator will also have powers to carry out investigations and cancel the registration of AHBs. These functions will be introduced on a phased basis and the sector will be informed accordingly.

Key deliverables for 2021 The year 2021 is seen largely as an implementation and build period, with AHBRA anticipated to be operational in 2022. A key function of the newly established AHBRA is to promote awareness and understanding of the Act. A new website will be launched shortly and will provide useful information and guidance for the sector. A series of webinars for AHBs are planned, to provide further information on the role of the new Regulator and the requirements for AHBs. AHBRA recently issued an FAQ document that provides information about the AHBRA and the Act. Further information will also be posted on social media and AHBs are


recommended to connect on LinkedIn and Twitter (@AHBregulator).

A phased introduction to statutory regulation

All AHBs are strongly encouraged to join the mailing list to receive AHBRA information and invites to educational webinars by emailing communications@ahbregulator.ie

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A strategy statement is anticipated to be submitted to the Minister for approval in August 2021. The strategy statement will set out the mission, vision, and values of the AHBRA, together with its strategic objectives over the next three years.

The Register of Approved Housing Bodies An important function for the new statutory regulator will be to establish and maintain an AHB register. All AHBs will initially be deemed as registered once the relevant sections of the legislation have been commenced. This means that each AHB will be subject to all aspects of the regulatory requirements. Additionally, AHBs will then be required to apply to register with AHBRA on a phased basis dependent on their size. AHB boards should familiarise themselves with the registration process, including the criteria for registration, as laid out in the legislation.

The Standards for Approved Housing Bodies A new set of draft Standards will be published which will cover matters relating to corporate governance, financial management and reporting, property and asset management and tenancy management. It is anticipated that “preparation of the draft Standards” will be commenced in early summer 2021. In accordance with the Act,

AHBRA must prepare and submit draft standards to the Minister for approval.

Whilst the powers and functions of

AHBRA will communicate with key stakeholders when the commencement of this section of the Act has been initiated. The regulator will publish the draft Standards on its website to allow for representations to be made over a 28day period. AHBRA will pro-actively engage with key stakeholders to ensure appropriate representations are facilitated. AHBRA will consider all representations and may amend the draft Standards before they are submitted to the Minister.

phased basis, it is crucial for AHBs to be

AHBRA will be commenced on a prepared for regulation. All AHBs are encouraged to review all materials released by the AHBRA in the coming months and participate in webinars that will be hosted by the AHBRA throughout 2021. A number of AHBs did not engage with the voluntary environment and therefore will be less familiar with the impacts of regulation on their organisations. AHBRA particularly encourages those organisations to contact the AHBRA to

How to prepare your Approved Housing Body AHB boards are actively encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Act 2019 and the key requirements outlined within the Act. Understanding these requirements should be an essential objective for all AHBs during 2021.

ensure they have access to all relevant communications and events that will be held by AHBRA in 2021. AHBRA will continue to roll-out a series of communications to the entire AHB Sector relating to the powers, functions, and deliverables of the Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority.

Useful links:

“AHBRA particularly encourages AHBs who did not engage with the voluntary environment to actively participate in the guidance and education forums in 2021.”

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The Act: The Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Act 2019 https://bit.ly/32VutWU W: www.ahbregulator.ie Information: info@ahbregulator.ie Join the AHBRA mailing list to receive updates, information and invites to educational events. E: communications@ahbregulator.ie 21


Ireland’s housing magazine

Fingal produce successful solutions with innovative housing delivery model The 238 social housing units will be made up of 126 houses and duplexes and 112 apartments, ranging from one to four-bedroom units, while the 238 affordable units will be in the form of two and three-bedroom houses. Under the development agreement, the Council retains ownership of the land and will issue a Licence to Build to Glenveagh who, subject to planning permission, can commence construction. Fingal will retain title to the social units and the open spaces which will be taken in charge.

The development at Ballymastone will have a tenure mix of 20 per cent social, 20 per cent affordable and 60 per cent private housing.

The recent decision by members of Fingal County Council to approve the disposal of land at Ballymastone, Donabate is the latest milestone for an innovative model that is set to increase the mechanisms open to local authorities for housing delivery.

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Fingal have developed a local authoritydriven delivery model in which they will partner with Glenveagh Living Ltd to deliver an exemplar sustainable mixed tenure housing development of up to 1,200 homes in Ballymastone. Community, recreational and educational facilities will also be provided along with improved transport links and public open spaces. The tenure mix will be 20 per cent social housing, 20 per cent affordable housing and 60 per cent private housing and the first homes could be ready for delivery in 2022 as there is a commitment in the Development Agreement to be on site within 16 weeks of planning permission being granted. The Development Agreement between 22

the Council and Glenveagh includes the guaranteed delivery of two and threebedroom affordable homes to first time buyers at a unit cost of €250,000 to €270,000. Following concerns raised by councillors ahead of the disposal of the land for the project, Glenveagh provided an undertaking that no houses will be sold to institutional investors and that 50 per cent of the designated private apartment blocks within the development will be offered for sale to bodies who are permitted to offer cost rental accommodation to tenants, pursuant to the State support cost rental scheme. Glenveagh also committed, in respect of the balance, to making the first offer to the private market.

Title to the 238 affordable units will transfer to eligible purchasers nominated by the Council under the relevant Affordable Housing Scheme and will have a council charge in line with the Affordable Housing Bill 2021. The title to the 718 private units will transfer to Glenveagh in phases and only when units are deemed substantially complete. There will also be a Development Bond in place for each phase and the Council’s Development Contribution Scheme will apply to the private units. Matthew McAleese, Fingal County Council’s Director of Planning and Strategic Infrastructure, who is leading the project, said: “The Council now has a housing scheme with 1,194 homes which, subject to planning, will substantially alleviate the housing crisis in both the short and medium term. The project has met all the requirements of the Public Spending Code, including the requirement for robust governance structures. “Having initially established the vision for the development, we then defined the parameters and constraints for the project to ensure that the Council Executive maintains a strong level of oversight and control over the development of the site. The procurement process adhered to all EU, national and council procurement and statutory requirements and we had the benefit of advice from expert


procurement, legal and financial advisors as well as the National Development Finance Agency. “Our governance and oversight structures are designed to safeguard public monies and achieve value for money for the taxpayer while provision has been made in the Development Agreement for the developer to report directly to the Council Executive on the progress of the project. There will also be bi-annual meetings with Glenveagh for oversight purposes,” added McAleese.

It took a successful application for €10.62 million in funding under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) towards the construction of the €14.25 million Donabate Distributor Road to turn the aspirations into a reality as the 4km road, which was completed in March 2020, opened up the Ballymastone lands for residential development. In 2018 the Council created Project Talamh, which is its mechanism to drive the development of its strategic landbanks across the county using innovative forms of delivery. The Project Steering Group includes key members of the Council’s Executive Management Team as well as representatives from the National Development Finance Agency and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. They oversee the work of a crossdepartmental Project Implementation Team and its advisors. The vision for Ballymastone was simple: •

leverage the value of the Council’s land to provide homes at affordable prices to address the issue of housing affordability in the market; provide First Time Buyers with an opportunity to purchase a home at an affordable price; secure the sustainability of the development with a mixed tenure

Almost 1,200 homes will be provided at Ballymastone under a new housing delivery model developed by Fingal County Council.

“The Council now has a housing scheme with 1,194 homes which, subject to planning, will substantially alleviate the housing crisis in both the short and medium term.” Matthew McAleese, Fingal County Council’s Director of Planning and Strategic Infrastructure.

approach to support strong social integration and cohesion; and

private homes across Fingal. We have

provide accessible community, open space and recreational facilities.

this new model of delivery, which can

The Council conducted a market sounding exercise in 2018 to inform the procurement process and proceeded to engage with the market in a Competitive Dialogue procurement over the next two and a half years.

spent the last three years developing deliver a mixed tenure residential development. There was overwhelming support from our councillors for the Ballymastone project and we will continue to work closely with the elected members to improve the supply of all types of housing in Fingal.”

Three interested parties participated in the Competitive Dialogue and were then invited to submit final tenders in 2020, with Glenveagh emerging as the preferred tenderer in March 2021. Following the agreement to dispose of the Ballymastone lands, Glenveagh will now seek planning permission for the development.

Fingal are currently working on

The Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, AnnMarie Farrelly, says: “Our mandate from government is to provide housing and, since 2015, we have used many mechanisms to ensure the construction of social, affordable and

Fingal County Council

developing mixed tenure schemes at Church Fields in Dublin 15, Cappagh in

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deliver a successful and sustainable community through the provision of high quality and attractive residential development, with the delivery of homes of the right type, quality and cost at the right locations to address housing supply demands;

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Although the site at Ballymastone has been in Council ownership since the 1970s, it was only in 2015 that the foundations for its development were created when the Donabate Local Area Plan earmarked the 32-hectare councilowned landbank for the development of housing, community and recreational facilities.

Dublin 11 and Hayestown in Rush and are working with the Land Development Agency on schemes at Hacketstown in Skerries and Castlelands in Balbriggan.

T: 01 890 5000 W: www.fingal.ie Twitter: @fingalcoco

23


IMF says more revenue needed to solve housing crisis

Ireland’s housing magazine

In a review of the Irish economy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that Ireland will need to raise more taxes if it is to invest in affordable housing to a sufficient degree once recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic has begun to take hold. In its Staff Concluding Statement of the 2021 Article IV Mission, which was conducted virtually over two weeks in May, the IMF said that a “premature withdrawal of support” in the form of economic measures designed to protect against the worst of the pandemic ‘should be avoided’ and advised that “economic policy needs to strike a balance between providing targeted support to hard-hit sectors and vulnerable groups and facilitating transition to a greener and more digital recovery that limits scarring and addresses Ireland’s medium-term challenges”. Achieving sustained growth, the report advises, will require significant investment in social and physical infrastructures, specifically the alleviation of the shortage of affordable housing in Ireland. The need to spend, an ageing population and the “still high ratio of public debt to Modified Gross National Income (GNI*)”, means that the IMF recommends that Ireland broaden its tax base to raise additional public revenue, while warning that “it is also important to adapt and gradually withdraw temporary support measures as the recovery takes hold to incentivise transformation and safeguard fiscal sustainability”. Reducing the shortages in affordable housing will require a multi-pronged approach, the IMF says while noting that “the Government’s effort in this regard is welcome but more needs to be done”. The IMF suggests four main steps in order to alleviate the pressure on the housing system as it is: the release of more government-held land for development; the streamlining of approval processes for permits and rezoning; the assessment of incentives to build rental properties; and the increasing of supply, including that of social housing. The Daft.ie rental price report, published in the same week as the IMF’s report, highlighted the shortage of properties that has resulted in the high rental prices that the IMF is emphasising the need to tackle. According to the rental price report, rental prices outside of Dublin were 7.1 per cent higher in the first quarter of 2021 than in the same period last year, costing tenants an extra €900 per year. The IMF also emphasises that “continued effort is needed to meet the ambitious National Development and Climate Action plans” and it welcomes the increasing of the carbon tax in order to fund the progression of these plans. Speaking after the IMF’s report was published, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath TD said: “Key requirements for an inclusive and sustainable recovery noted by the IMF, including upskilling and investment, are priorities for Government. The Government’s focus on upskilling will allow us to address the challenge that as we emerge from the pandemic, many of the jobs of the future will be different. The review of the National Development Plan that is underway will set new five-year rolling departmental capital allocations and overall 10-year capital ceilings out to 2030. This will support delivery of priority commitments for Government, also highlighted by the IMF, including action on climate change and the provision of sustainable housing.”

24


SITE PLAN FOR EMMET ROAD

What’s Next for Emmet Road, Dublin 8? The key objective of the Emmet Road project in Inchicore, Dublin 8 is to design an affordable, sustainable, architecturally innovative, energy efficient, residential community supplemented and supported by community facilities and a neighbourhood centre including a supermarket. The design is driven by a place-making agenda including promoting shared spaces that encourage social activity and enhance the lives of both the residents and the surrounding community. For more information see www.emmetroad.ie


Social housing delivery in 2020 Ireland’s housing magazine

In March 2021, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD published details of social housing delivery output in 2020. Key figures which emerged include:

27,517

24,625

REBUILDING IRELAND’S OVERALL SOCIAL HOUSING DELIVERY TARGET FOR 2020

HOUSEHOLDS HAD THEIR HOUSING NEEDS MET

7,827

5,073

NEW SOCIAL HOMES DELIVERED

NEW BUILD HOMES DELIVERED

3,340

THE TARGET OF

26

FEWER THAN

11,167

2,230 2,101 742

BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES

BY AHBs

DELIVERED VIA PART V


1,440

HOMES DELIVERED THROUGH TARGETED ACQUISITIONS

HOMES DELIVERED THROUGH LEASING PROGRAMMES

15,885

913

HOUSEHOLDS ACCOMMODATED UNDER THE HAP SCHEME IN 2020

HOUSEHOLDS MOVED FROM RENT SUPPLEMENT TO RAS IN 2020

Ireland’s housing magazine

1,314

Source: Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Respond: Growing from strength to strength Respond, the approved housing body (AHB) and service provider, has a dual strategy of “building homes, improving lives”. As one of Ireland’s largest approved housing bodies, Respond is unique in providing a wide range of services alongside its housing construction and housing management. These include Daycare for Older People Services, Early Childhood Care and Education Services, Family Homeless Services, Family Support, and Refugee Resettlement Services.

Respond CEO Declan Dunne says the organisation is moving into a new, ambitious period of growth. “During a global pandemic in 2020, we delivered 572 homes, adding to the national housing stock, supporting the work of iCare in a further 109 homes. We have strengthened our leadership, attracting new talent, bringing new skills and expertise to the organisation. Our board has been strengthened with the addition of new, highly qualified and experienced Board members. We are very excited by our partnerships with the Centre for Effective Studies and the Global Brain Health Institute. The point of all of this is to ensure thriving communities in which Respond’s tenants and service users are heard and supported.”

NEW COLLABORATIONS

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Designing a new tenancy management service for Respond with Centre for Effective Studies (CES) With the significant increase in Respond’s housing, the needs of Respond’s tenants and developments have changed over time. Respond is keen to draw on the collective knowledge and experience of staff and tenants to develop their practise so that their communities are empowered to reach their full potential. To that end, they are now collaborating with the Centre for Effective Studies (CES) to develop a logic model for a new tenancy management service, ensuring tenants are at the heart of everything the organisation do. 28

Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) Respond announced a new partnership with the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI). The organisations partner on two work streams: brain health training for Respond’s social care staff and a series of thematic seminars examining the intersection between brain health and housing. In addition, Respond have contracted two GBHI Fellows to work with them on the design of 101 new social housing apartments in Dublin and the redesign of La Verna Daycare for Older People Centre.


NEW DIRECTOR

Olivia McCann Olivia McCann is a highly committed and experienced solicitor with 29 years of experience dealing with complex commercial matters both in Ireland and the UK. She specialises in commercial property and business law. Olivia qualified with McCann FitzGerald Solicitors in 1992 and in the UK in 1998, subsequently working with London Law Firm, Clifford Chance and Canary Wharf Group plc as Legal Counsel specialising in large commercial property transactions. She now works in Waterford with McCann Morrissey Clarke.

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“I am delighted to join the board of Respond. This is a critical time as we emerge from Covid-19. I am really impressed by Respond’s ability to keep adding to national housing stock throughout the pandemic and the agility of the staff who have continued to provide and adapt services for people who need them.” NEW STAFF

Neil Bolton Head of Housing Neil has over 20 years’ strategic and operational experience in social housing, gained in both the UK and Ireland. He has worked at Executive level in both jurisdictions. In Ireland, Neil was an operations director and property director with Clúid Housing; in the UK, he was a customer services (property) director for a SCHT, a large Bath-based housing association. He also worked in a senior housing role for Bristol City Council. Between 2015 and 2017, he served as a non-executive director for the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH). He has also worked as an independent consultant primarily working with social housing organisations. Neil holds a PG Diploma in housing studies, a PG Diploma in business and executive coaching and is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Housing.

“Respond is committed to making sure that it can offer more high-quality homes to those that need them. Ensuring that we continue to improve services for existing tenants whilst we take on new homes will be more important than ever.”

Ciaran Andrews Deputy Head of Housing (Asset Management) The Deputy Head of Housing (Asset Management) is a new position in the Housing Team at Respond. Ciaran is a chartered building surveyor, assigned certifier, chartered architectural technologist and a RICS accredited building conservation surveyor. He has a keen interest in asset management within social housing. As a private sector building surveyor and head of asset management in Choice Housing Ireland, he has successfully brought a commercial mind-set to asset management whilst retaining his focus on the social purpose of the sector.

“I look forward to working with Respond to ensure the ambitious plans for growth over the next few years are delivered. It is my view that a quality asset management function within Respond will be an important contributory factor for the growth of the organisation.”

Felix McKenna Deputy Head of Development

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The Deputy Head of Development is a new position in the Development Team at Respond. Felix has over 30 years of experience in the real estate business, including residential property development and asset management. A chartered surveyor and barrister by profession, he is a founding executive and Partner at Urbeo Residential, a leading institutional residential investment platform. Before joining Urbeo, he was a senior asset manager at the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), where he led the team that established and managed the NAMA social housing platform, NARPS. He also had responsibility for several Dublin Docklands mixed-use development projects. Prior to NAMA, he was director of property at Eir and previously head of property at one of Ireland’s largest property management service providers, Irish Estates. Felix is a former President of the Society of Chartered Surveyors in Ireland.

“Respond is a leading provider in the sector with a great team and a very ambitious housing delivery programme. I’m really looking forward to being part of that team and making a significant contribution to Respond’s work.”

For more information: T: +353 (0)1 808 7700 E: info@respond.ie W: www.respond.ie 29


Homelessness during and after Covid-19

Ireland’s housing magazine

the slope of inequality, as you go through poverty into lower socioeconomic groups, basically all health indices get lower and mortality rates get higher, while illness rates and crime rates get higher. However, when you reach homelessness, it’s like you hit a cliff face, the cliff edge of inequity. Mortality rates shoot up, as do the rates of illness.” International research shows that mortality rates among homeless people are between 3.5 and 40 times greater than among the general population. Research undertaken by O’Carroll and Safetynet General Manager Fiona O’Reilly in Dublin outlined the poor health profile of people experiencing homelessness. Key findings include: • one-in-33 homeless people have HIV; • one-in-four have hepatitis C;

Austin O’Carroll, HSE Clinical Lead for the Dublin Homeless Covid Response, discusses the challenges of coordinating homeless services during the Covid-19 pandemic, how cross-sectoral collaboration was key to lowerthan-expected infection rates, and the future of homelessness services after the pandemic. “I live and work in the north east of Dublin’s inner city,” says O’Carroll, a GP who was also a founder of both Safetynet, which provides GP services for 6,000 marginalised patients annually throughout Ireland, and GMQ, a primary care programme for homeless people. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the north inner city was the epicentre of Covid infections in the country. Covid, as we might have expected, is affecting areas of deprivation the most.” As the crisis began, Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organisation's Health Emergencies Programme, warned governments: “Be fast, have no regrets. You must be the first mover. The virus will always get you if you don’t move quickly. Perfection is the enemy of the good when it comes to emergency management.” These words 30

guided O’Carroll and his colleagues as they sought to protect the most vulnerable in Irish society. “We’ve seen an incredible collaboration between the HSE Social Inclusion team and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive [DRHE] along with Homeless Accommodation Providers, specialised clinical services, addiction services and harm reduction organisations. We developed this collaboration to address the Covid response but, actually, it has provided a lot of opportunities to address homelessness into the future,” O’Carroll says. “Very early on, there was a huge flurry of activity amongst homeless health services because there was a palpable fear about the effect of Covid on the homeless population. As you go through

• one-in-three have attempted suicide at some stage in their lives (one-in-10 over the last six months); • 13 per cent have a diagnosis of schizophrenia; • 30 per cent are heroin users; • 41 per cent drank alcohol above recommended limits; and • in terms of access to healthcare, 25 per cent don’t have a medical card despite being entitled. With such health challenges abounding, the flurry of activity necessitated by the Covid crisis needed to be a coordinated. “First of all, if a hostel manager identified someone who was symptomatic, they would ring up the Covid response team (staffed by HSE, Ana Liffey Drug Project and Depaul) who would arrange for Safetynet to triage (and if required) test them and move them straight away to isolation,” he says, describing the process by which Covid was tackled among the city’s homelessness services. “If the accommodation was suitable, some of the people would isolate where they were situated, but the vast majority were moved. We were quite strict on this on the basis that we didn’t want the virus getting into hostels. DRHE came up with a lot of accommodation including a 100bed unit in St Augustine’s. It is comprised of 100 two-bedroom


People in isolation accommodation 2020 125

101 100

81 75

68 49

49

38

34

34

38 38

24 25

17

24

25

29 16

16

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50

23

0 31.8

7.9

14.9

21.9

28.9

5.10

12.10

19.10

26.10

2.11

9.11

16.11

23.11

30.11

7.12

14.12

21.12

28.12

(Day and month)

apartments into which we would isolate people. The McVerry Trust provided staff and nursing support. Depaul Trust also had a unit in Clontarf. The accommodation providers would provide the staff and nursing support while Safetynet would monitor the patients to make sure they didn’t become too unwell and need to be moved to hospital.

maintenance and reduction course for those addicted to benzodiazepines was managed by GMQ. Separate housing for those with disruptive behavioural issues was secured and staffed by Focus Ireland. Ana Liffey Drug Project, Chrysalis and Coolmine provided inreach support for clients. Dublin Simon provided counselling services over the phone.

“We came up with this model whereby we would identify the most medically vulnerable and put it into place. We pursued identification through a scoring system based on age and medical vulnerability. For instance, you would get a point if you were 40-50, two points if you were 50-60, three points if you were 60-70 and four points if you were over 70. If you had diabetes, you’d get four points, if you had chronic heart disease, you’d get two points, etcetera. We identified the risk diseases and give points based on that. We came up with the points scale between two and 13. We identified a lot of these people who were already in their own room and had access to their own rooms and could isolate and keep safe. DRHE came up with another 320 ‘shielding unit’ beds for people who hadn’t got that ability to restrict their movements and we moved medically vulnerable people into units.” These shielding units were operated by Crosscare, Depaul, McVerry Trust, Novas and San Kalpa. The HSE Healthlink team provided clinical support for these units.

This intensive and collaborative approach returned results that defied expectations: “We tested as many people and up to December 2020, had 80 Covid positive cases. In early January, we had 50 Covid positive cases among clients. These are actually much lower figures than we had anticipated; we expected a much higher number of positive cases, so we’ve actually done extremely well in terms of positivity.

Simultaneously, addiction services were enabled to have a 12-week waiting list for methadone cut down to three days. A

“By January, we had up to 206 people in shielding units, and another 150 shielding in accommodation that they had previously been in which proved suitable. In shielding units, we haven’t had any positive cases, which is a fantastic result. We have now had 130 positive cases overall, but interestingly, while we had predicted that we would have 23 deaths by April 2020, we have only had three deaths overall and the third death was someone who contracted Covid in hospital, not in homeless services. During the first surge, it was reported that not only was there low numbers of homeless presenting with Covid, but they also reported a reduction for non-Covid issues.” O’Carroll is currently undertaking

research to prove what he has seen in the response to Covid: that the melding together of healthcare, housing and addiction services can be a powerful combination in combatting homelessness. “What I believe strongly is that uniting everyone in this mission is the key to going forward. The issue of homelessness is a justice issue and a public health issue. The factors supporting these positive outcomes are the existing homelessness services, the HSE and DRHE and a clear corporate and clinical governance structure. The collapse of the rental and hotel market was key in terms of freeing up accommodation. I think we’re lucky in Ireland to have a social inclusion directorate in the HSE, which is fairly unique in Europe and not to be underestimated,” O’Carroll says. Concluding, O’Carroll stresses the importance of keeping the spirit of collaboration alive after the pandemic: “Going forward, to ensure we keep sight of that common mission. Housing is a priority, and we must manage the housing and rental markets to both prevent homelessness and increase housing supply. We need to remove the competition from homeless health and accommodation markets. There’s a real sense of collaboration. Often, you’re put up against each other to bid for initiative and there is a lot of competition, but Covid has brought everyone together. We have to ensure rapid access to addiction services, maintain structures that encourage collaboration and fill the gaps in mental health services.” 31


Ireland’s housing magazine

Peter McVerry Trust plans significant growth in housing delivery

Peter McVerry Trust, the national housing and homeless charity, has said it intends to rapidly grow the number of homes it is providing directly to people impacted by homelessness. The charity, which is now active in 28 of the 31 local authorities across Ireland, worked with 7,800 people and helped 1,300 people secure a home in 2020. In May 2021, the charity published its annual report for 2020 in Dublin. The report was launched by Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien TD, at the charity’s first new build apartment scheme at New Street South in Dublin 8, another key milestone in the organisation’s development as a social housing provider.

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Pat Doyle, the charity’s CEO, indicates that the longer-term strategic vision is to increase the number of homes it delivers on an annual basis to provide more pathways to housing for vulnerable people in homelessness. Doyle says that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the charity had a very successful year in terms of housing development and in progressing people into housing. The charity notes that almost half of its social housing tenancies at the end of 2020 were Housing First tenancies. 32

“Last year was by far and away the best year we have experienced in terms of housing delivery and progressing people into housing. Overall, we helped 1,300 people secure a new home and directly delivered 150 social housing units in 2020. This included housing right across the country in key areas such as Dublin and Kildare but also in new areas such as counties Cork, Galway, Kerry, and Wexford. “The delivery of these new homes came about not just because of greater availability of apartments due to the collapse of the Airbnb-type market, but because of greater success in tackling long-term vacant homes through schemes like the Repair and Leasing Scheme where, for example, we worked to deliver the first two units under that scheme in Cork city last year. “We have also continued to make use of the Capital Assistance Scheme funding

from the Department of Housing to enable us to acquire more units for Housing First, people with complex needs and vulnerable young people with a history of State care. The ongoing challenge is the delivery of onebedroom homes for single people impacted by homelessness and we are working on a variety of ways in which to secure these.”

Largest round of new social housing developments The charity is now embarking on its latest strategic plan for the period between 2021 and 2025, which it says will deliver an additional 1,000 new social housing units. “We have a number of larger developments in progress across Ireland. Our single largest social housing project to date is underway in


Limerick where, in partnership with Limerick City and County Council, we are constructing 38 two- and three-bed family homes in Moyross and Southill as part of the wider regeneration programme in those communities. This project kicked off in April 2021 and is scheduled to complete in December 2021. All the units are manufactured locally in a factory setting and assembled on site. This is not only our largest project to date but also the first time we have used factory fabricated units for social housing.

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“In addition to the Limerick Regeneration Scheme, we are advancing three other construction projects in Limerick with a focus on the delivery of one-bedroom homes. The delivery of one-bedroom homes is our primary objective to meet the needs of the Housing First programme as well as the needs of single people in homelessness and care leavers,” Doyle outlines. While delivering housing across 28 of the 31 local authority areas in the coming years, the Peter McVerry Trust will be focusing its response in areas such as Dublin, Kildare, Cork, Galway and Limerick and other areas with high levels of homeless housing needs. “We have a number of projects commencing construction this year in Dublin with sites such as Haddington Road, Townsend Street, Shaw Street and Drumcondra Road all scheduled to commence in 2021. This will be far and away the busiest year we will have had for direct build schemes in Dublin. “This activity will be replicated in other areas shortly as we are advancing construction projects in areas such as Kildare, Louth, Mayo and south Dublin. So, you can clearly see the direction we are taking as we move more into the space of direct delivery,” the charity’s CEO explains. “This work will complement our already successful model of tackling long-term vacant stock for the delivery of social

housing. This includes working with owners of derelict units to return them to use as social housing and we are doing this very successfully in town centres right across the country. Schemes such as the Repair and Leasing, and Buy and Renew schemes are key in helping us secure more homes and we also work to use long-term leasing as a means of generating one-bedroom homes in larger provincial towns.”

Concluding, Doyle states: “Ultimately, we want to ensure single people have pathways out of homelessness and into to secure, high-quality housing. If we can grow as planned, we will have hopefully made a major dent in the homeless figures in this country and helped reduce down the number of people impacted by the issue, which can only be a good thing.”

Overall, the charity says it is planning to grow from around 650 residential units at the end of 2020 to a figure of 1,6501,700 by the end of 2025.

Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust E: pdoyle@pmvtrust.ie

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“Last year was by far and away the best year we have experienced in terms of housing delivery and progressing people into housing. Overall, we helped 1,300 people secure a new home and directly delivered 150 social housing units in 2020.” Pat Doyle, CEO, Peter McVerry Trust 33


Ireland’s housing magazine

stormont Housing Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA: Housing system revitalisation Stormont Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey MLA discusses her plans to tackle the significant challenges facing the northern housing system, including the revitalisation of the Housing Executive and the development of a housing supply strategy. Outlining that legislative and structural transformation is needed to address housing need in the North, the Minister sets out her “ultimate ambition” to ensure that every household has access to “good quality, affordable and sustainable housing, which is appropriate to meet its needs”.

34

standards of Housing Executive stock over the next 30 years to be £7.1 billion.

Hargey recently announced plans to revitalise the Housing Executive and points to the landlord function of the Housing Executive, with ownership of some 85,000 homes, as an area where the most significant challenges lie.

“More than two years have passed since that analysis. The current situation is most certainly worse, and the scale of investment is even greater,” she states. “It is clear that the Housing Executive, as it is currently structured, cannot afford to fund the investment required. Neither can the Executive, as this would require funding to be diverted from other services which we all depend on.”

Offering a context of the long-standing investment challenges which exist, the Minister points to 2018 analysis which estimates the cost of maintaining

The Minister articulates some other “equally undesirable options” in the form of diverting the Department’s resources to build new social homes or

a reduction in Housing Executive stock by 40,000 homes, both of which she says will result in increasing levels of housing stress. “None of these options are acceptable to me. That is why I am seeking an alternative way forward which will provide the Housing Executive with the freedom to borrow without scoring against public expenditure,” she explains. Outlining her vision for the Housing Executive as a sustainable landlord to maintain and provide good quality and affordable social homes to those in need of them, the Minister says that she is committed to “co-designing viable options for change” alongside


tenants, communities, staff, and their representatives.

Hargey indicates that revitalisation will not be focused on the Housing Executive’s landlord function alone. Emphasising the importance of the Housing Executive’s role as the regional housing authority, responsible for functions including assessment of need, management of the common waiting list and the geographical distribution of new social builds, the Minister asserts her view that the organisation must remain accountable to a publicly appointed board, with oversight from an Executive Minister. Under plans set out by the Minister, a comprehensive review of the Housing Executive’s rental structure is to be conducted, a commitment previously set out in the New Decade, New Approach agreement. The review will be focused on delivering social rent levels which are affordable for tenants, while at the same time being financially sustainable for the landlord, according to Hargey. The South Belfast MLA says that the recent UK Budget announcement, which included an exemption for the Housing Executive from paying corporation tax, registers as an important contribution to her plans to revitalise the organisation. Additionally, she has tasked officials to explore options for the removal of historic debt alongside colleagues in the Department of Finance and with the British Government. Returning to the issue of social housing stock protection and a reduction in levels of housing stress, the Minister identifies a conflict in policies between capital investment and discounted sales. “Over the past few years, we have invested an average £100 million of capital in building around 1,800 new social homes. However, each year we have sold an average of 483 homes under the Right to Buy scheme at a discount of up to £24,000. This is a discount the public have funded, and we clearly have policies that are in direct conflict with one another.

“I will make sure that we have a suite of options to ensure community stability and enable everybody to buy a family home, if they wish, but this must not reduce the supply of social housing that we are striving to increase.” Hargey outlines her intention to launch a consultation on the future of the Housing Executive House Sales Scheme, building on legislation passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly in June 2020 which will see the end of the house sales scheme for housing associations in August 2022. This, she says, will address the need to do more to protect the social housing stock. On building plans, she says: “I believe the targets for social housing build are far too low and I am keen to gain sufficient budget, as well as introducing policy changes to increase the capacity of the Social Housing Development Programme and to deliver more homes where they are most needed. Included in these plans, the Minister sets out her intention to: •

reintroduce ringfencing of funding;

carry out public body engagement to address infrastructure complaints;

encourage housing associations to identify available land for social housing;

identify surplus public land for social and intermediate housing; and

update the Housing Selection scheme.

“I want to revitalise our social housing to make it work better and to make

Ireland’s housing magazine

“I believe the targets for social housing build are far too low and I am keen to gain sufficient budget, as well as introducing policy changes to increase the capacity of the Social Housing Development Programme and to deliver more homes where they are most needed.”

“Mutual and cooperative designation are some of the options to be considered, however, my priority will be to retain the value of the Housing Executive model. I want to give full consideration to the options that limit change as far as possible,” she states.

sure that there is a lot more of it,” the Minister states.

Private rent Highlighting her understanding that housing stress is not a challenge for the social housing sector alone, Hargey says that the private rented sectors, now of a similar size to the social sector but containing twice as many families with children, was one of the Department’s most urgent areas of intervention as the pandemic broke. The Minister says that development of the Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Act (Northern Ireland) 2020 helped focus attention on the vulnerability of tens of thousands of families and hundreds of thousands of people living in private rentals. Elaborating that 40 per cent of all housing benefit is paid to private landlords, Hargey says that it is only right that her Department ensures that hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being paid to private landlords is not paying for low quality or overpriced housing. “I will bring forward legislation to the Assembly that will improve the safety, security and quality of the private rental sector,” the Minister states. “Four weeks is far too short a time for anyone to be asked to leave their home and to find a suitable new house, which is affordable. My department previously consulted on extending the notice to quit to eight weeks, but it is my view that it should be a lot longer.” Suggesting her preferred notice period is for six months, the Minister adds: “I am looking to see what is possible given the limits of our legislation.”

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housing options, focusing capital grants on building more social homes and in parallel to protecting and enhancing our social hosing, improve the situation for those private renters and deliver more intermediate housing options,” the Minister summarises.

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Homelessness Setting out the prioritisation of actions to improve the response to homelessness, Hargey says that the Department’s future homelessness policy will build in the lessons learnt in response to the pandemic and will include the roll out of an interdependent homelessness action plan which will continue to support the Housing Executive to deliver its statutory responsibility for responding to homelessness.

“My department previously consulted on extending the notice to quit to eight weeks, but it is my view that it should be a lot longer.” On rents, the Minister acknowledges that tenants in the private rental sector often face the highest rents and often get the least value for their money. “I accept that landlords run businesses, but I will not let them exploit tenants, especially given that so much of the rent that they receive comes from the taxpayers,” the Minister says. “It does not matter if you rent a social house or from a private landlord, I will bring forward protections to ensure that your rent is fair and secures you a good home.” Hargey emphasises her intention to continue to help people into home ownership if it is their choice to do so. The pandemic has had a recognisable impact on mortgage availability, not least because of the introduction of stricter lending criteria by banks. To this

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end, the Minister says that she allocated some £13 million of additional funding for the Co-Ownership scheme. Additionally, she signals an intention to expand intermediate housing options, recognising that intermediate rent homes can be a steppingstone to lowcost homeownership for some or can provide better, more affordable solutions for others.

FTC The Minister says that she aims to ensure that a choice will not have to made between private renter supports and social housing investment by maximising the potential of new funding streams such as financial transactions capital (FTC) loan funding. “I will use FTC to deliver additional

Highlighting that her department does not have responsibility for the whole housing market, Hargey says that the recognition that housing is an integrated system and that the challenges facing the increase in supply of social and intermediate housing are the same as those effecting housing supply more broadly, are the reasoning behind the development of a new Housing Supply Strategy. The Department for Communities is leading on the strategy’s development which will look at whole-system issues which act as a barrier to supply but will also give consideration to wider issues around quality, sustainability, and affordability in the context of changing demographic and household formation trends. “The Strategy will align with the Executive’s energy and green growth strategies and, in doing so, will provide the long-term basis for sustaining improvements across the entire housing market but with a specific focus on equality and on increasing housing supply and housing options for those in greatest housing need,” the Minister explains. Summarising her approach to a lengthy list of challenges in the housing sector, the Minister concludes: “Equality and rights are the basis of my approach and you can’t get more basic than the right to a home.”


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Housing for All: Opportunities for social and affordable housing

Innovation in housing delivery: Off-site manufactured homes in Ireland and 3D printed rented home in the Netherlands.

Ensuring housing affordability, increased supply, access for key target groups and enhanced quality of all housing should be the overarching focus in the new proposed new government Housing for All policy document, writes Donal McManus, CEO at the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH).

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A national plan that has strategic direction and objectives for the next fiveto-10 years for the housing sector, as well dealing with the ongoing operational challenges has a real opportunity to create a more stable and balanced housing system for all and make an impact on the housing crisis.

Housing associations’ contribution Non-profit housing associations and members of the ICSH, also known as approved housing bodies (AHBs), have an important role in contributing to

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Housing for All, although it can’t solve alone all the housing challenges that we encounter. AHBs in the housing association sector own and manage over 40,000 social rented homes and also adds at least another 10 per cent to its housing stock each year with new delivery. In addition, the sector is playing a central role in the delivery of the new cost rental housing targeted at those households with moderate incomes who may not qualify for social housing, or alternatively are unable to access an affordable home in the private sector to

either buy or rent. This is particularly geared to those households between the fourth- and eighth-income deciles in CSO statistics. Even though the cost rental programme was only established in recent months and despite Covid-19 restrictions, delivery on a number of approved cost rental projects will be completed by housing associations in the coming months and throughout 2021. A multiannual programme for cost rental will ensure that there is a structured programme for delivery and not just a one-off pilot.


The housing association sector comprises a smaller number of AHBs who provide social rented housing at scale, usually general needs and family housing. Their expansion has been supported in part, particularly by the successful Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF) and the Payment and Availability (P&A) scheme, which has yielded significant increased delivery since 2015.

Many of these projects also incorporate meeting wider objectives including reactivating towns and villages, reintegrating and supporting homeless households back into society such as with Housing First, preventing older people from entering nursing homes and care institutions prematurely, and enabling people with disabilities to live in their local community. The Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) as a funding mechanism has been adaptable to meet changing demographic housing needs of vulnerable households over the last 40 years. Housing associations operating in the sector for almost 150 years have also focused on the housing management of homes, so the quality of housing is maintained to a high standard for many generations.

Therefore, there is a much stronger base and capacity in place in the sector in 2021 to scale up for consistent delivery over the next decade. There is an increased role for social housing

“In tandem with the increased housing delivery required across all tenures, additional capacity in the construction industry will be an essential prerequisite.” over the next decade, starting off with Programme for Government (PFG) commitments, and National Development Plan. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to envisage the scale of social rented housing under management increasing from the current level of approximately 185,000 homes to circa 300,000 homes by the end of the decade in 2030. This would represent an increase of around onethird in the total social housing stock over the next decade to around 15 per cent of the housing stock, closer the EU average. This would help to address the deficit in social housing as social infrastructure that has emerged over a long period and became a systemic problem in the housing sector, where due to its small scale, it was both a limited safety net and springboard for families. The practical benefit of having a larger social housing stock in the region of 300,000 homes owned and managed by local authorities and housing associations, is it would allow for an increased number of casual vacancies. For example, a 5 per cent turnover per year of lettings in an expanded social housing stock of 300,000 homes would accommodate up to 15,000 households coming off the waiting list before any new housing is constructed. This would help with the objective in reducing waiting times for housing applicants and waiting lists could represent an ongoing frictional level of demand for social housing.

Land and delivery methods There are two key areas which are the

foundations to increased delivery of new affordable homes in the housing sector over the next 10 years, whether this be private, affordable, or social housing. Firstly, this should include continuous access to affordable sites, and increased capacity in the construction industry to provide additional homes as part of increased annual delivery in averaging 33,000 new homes per year to meet forecasted demand. Reducing the cost of sites will have a significant impact on the ability to contribute to making housing affordable for owners, including first time buyers, and housing associations providing cost rental and social housing. With the expanding range of new affordable housing schemes, it is also important there is not displacement of land for social housing purposes as occurred a decade ago. The Land Development Agency should be a key strategic role here in coordinating land assembly, including mobilising inactive land in public sector ownership, to cater for the various tenures and specific needs. In tandem with the increased housing delivery required across all tenures, additional capacity in the construction industry will be an essential prerequisite. As well as increased apprenticeships and workers in the industry, Housing for All should also focus on the innovation, digitalisation, and off-site manufacturing solutions to accelerate supply at scale. Although there have been some developments in the social housing sector to date in Ireland, particularly with modular type housing, more work should

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Progress has been made with increased delivery of social housing since 2016 by local authorities and housing associations from a low level. The housing association sector had its great leap forward between 2014 and 2019, when output rose from 400 to over 4,000 homes during this period. Alongside this, the new statutory regulation for AHBs, and with tenants through the RTB in recent years are key assurances for investment in the sector in the next decade.

North and East Housing: Drogheda — repurposing fire station to housing.

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Working in partnership with local authorities to meet their delivery targets, these new homes have provided additional choice for people on the local authority waiting lists. Other housing associations may focus less on larger scale developments, and on more targeted housing and related solutions for the homeless, older people, people with disabilities, single people, families with mortagage difficulties and new migrants.

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be enabled by government and its agencies to be undertaken in this area.

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For instance, off-site manufacturing can help to spread risk from a limited number of delivery methods such as traditional construction. Other innovations, such as 3D printed houses should be examined to establish whether this can deliver housing at greater scale and in a timely manner. The use of off-site manufacturing is increasing throughout the EU. Using manufacturing methods such as shipbuilding companies in Scandinavia to provide new off-site housing is now becoming familiar and further innovation in Ireland should be supported.

Housing investment Obviously, a key driver in the provision of new housing is sustainable investment, both public and private, in different formats. Housing associations, since 2011 have used both state capital and revenue/loan finance to provide social housing. Public investment by the State is a key component to contribute in delivering social and affordable housing and there is not significant leakage of public investment. In addition, the private construction sector plays a key role in constructing homes at scale including with increased joint ventures with housing associations. There is also a distinct role for targeted long-term private investment in social housing, such as ethical funds, who invest using Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) indicators. This includes instances where a housing association manages properties over 30 or 40 years, for example, from a pension fund. At the end of this period, the model enables properties to be returned to the State vis-à-vis the transfer of ownership to the housing association.

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There is often confusion with definitions and role of different private sector funds, which are not homogeneous, and which are rapidly mutating in the private financial sector. However, long-term ethical funds are a different character from those investors and shareholders who may invest in property for reason of extracting short value and capital gains. This is similar to the speculative property investment model that has occurred in major cities throughout the world whether it be in Dublin, New York, Amsterdam or Hong Kong. In contrast, the public interest mission of social and affordable housing provided by non-profit regulated housing associations

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Tuath meeting housing needs of new communities.

“There is often confusion with definitions and role of different private sector funds, which are not homogeneous, and which are rapidly mutating in the private financial sector. However, long-term ethical funds are a different character from those investors and shareholders who may invest in property for reason of extracting short value and capital gains.” would be more directly aligned with longterm investment by ethical funds in providing stable predictable returns.

types of new homes along with lifestyle choices post-Covid, there are significantly greater opportunities for a new Housing for All policy to address shrinkage in many

Existing and new stock

towns and villages throughout the country.

While Housing for All will likely have a strong focus on increased delivery for new households, with associated infrastructure and planning interventions required, there is also a need to focus on the current housing stock and particularly those living in poor quality or inadequate housing, so that they are not left behind by the strategy.

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Regeneration of older social housing stock is one particular area where housing associations have played, and continue to play a role in assisting local authorities in improving the quality of flats and bringing homes up to a modern standard. The Climate Action Plan objectives, including achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050, will be a dominant issue for both property owners and tenants. A significant investment plan in place, together with new payment models, will be required initially targeting older, less energy efficient stock. The social housing sector can play its part in planning for the reduced level of embodied carbon in developing of new housing, emphasising the reduction in tonnes of CO2 it can contribute to climate action plan targets. Also, in considering housing delivery, the

objectives have a direct spill over effect into other policy areas. For example, the level of owner occupation has an impact the welfare of people who are of pension age and also family formation age. Alongside this, social and affordable housing has a wide range of social, health, educational and economic benefits both for the individual, the local community and wider society. AHBs in the housing association sector have a long term interest in investing in housing and supporting local communities whilst meeting emerging demographic needs. In the next decade the sector is keen to ensure more social and affordable housing options.

For more information contact: Donal McManus CEO, Irish Council for Social Housing E: donal@icsh.ie W: www.icsh.ie


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Supply is key in post-pandemic housing Despite initial predictions that the Covid-19 pandemic would lead to a softening of the harsh conditions of the housing market in Ireland, supply has thinned and prices have risen in the year since the virus reached Ireland’s shores. The housing sales market was sitting stable in early 2020, with prices neither rising nor falling at substantial rates, but the pandemic has put a stop to any such steadying of prices. The number of homes coming onto the market has fallen by roughly 40 per cent in some parts of the country and as a result of strong demand and weak supply, prices have risen, the research of Trinity College Dublin Associate Professor Ronan Lyons suggests. National house prices have risen on average by between 7 per cent and 8 per cent, although some areas have seen price increases between 15 per cent and 20 per cent. Lyons has stated that the lack of sales during the pandemic has meant that his research estimates will not yet be visible in the official data. Figures released by the Central Statistics Office in May stated that prices in Dublin rose by just 1.2 per cent in the year to February 2021. Lyons’ research indicates that the rise in prices is not to do with a credit

bubble, but rather a lack of housing supply. “Even in a market blighted by extreme volatility, such as Ireland’s over the last three decades, the last 12 months will go down as remarkable ones in the history of Ireland’s housing market,” Lyons writes in the Daft.ie house price report for the first quarter of 2021. The report states that house prices rose by €20,000 on average in the year between March 2020 and 2021, roughly twice the rate of inflation of 2018 and 2019 that again is being blamed on a lack of supply, caused in part by the “supply shock” of the lockdown halting construction and Covid restrictions meaning that potential buyers could not view a property until a sale had been agreed, leading some agents to not list properties as yet. “There is no precedent for availability this tight in the post-Celtic Tiger housing market,” the report states. The onus for addressing this tight supply will of course

fall on the Government and the supply of social and affordable housing that has long been mooted, although the ability of the construction sector to meet demand in 2021 is seriously under question, with Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien TD estimating in early 2021 that every week of lockdown equated to the loss of between 700-800 houses scheduled to be built this year. Estimates for the number of houses needing to be built per year in order to satiate the already gargantuan prepandemic housing need in Ireland ranged in the 30,000s for every year of the 2020s; the Irish Government had hoped to have 25,000 homes built in 2021. With that target almost certain to be missed due to the lockdown of construction early in the year, the battle to cool price inflation via significant increase of supply in the post-pandemic era looks as if it will be a long one.

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Circle VHA: Seeing the opportunities Ireland’s housing magazine

This has opened up the prospect of viewing things differently, seeing past previous barriers and allowing ourselves to see a bigger picture. Circle has taken that opportunity and has actively sought engagement from its stakeholders as it moves forward in its strategy. We have taken the time to assess the climate, see the risks and to conclude that opportunity reigns. The future in this vastly different world affords us the opportunity to step outside the norm to seek to determine what more can be done and to push the boundaries of what is already being done. Within the housing sector we have seen the longawaited establishment of the Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA), which is expected to publish its three-year strategy in August 2021, another turn that can bring about opportunity.

This year we have all lost quite a bit, some more than others and that is to be acknowledged, mourned and accepted, but what have we gained this past year, Advertorial

with the exception of a few kilos, is opportunity. More than ever before we have had to seek innovative solutions to the most basic of everyday tasks, writes John Hannigan, CEO of Circle Voluntary Housing Association. 42

Without attempting to forecast the work of AHBRA, one would be inclined to accept that the regulatory climate and a risk-based approach would eventually bring about the words mergers and acquisitions. Following on from the guidance note issued in June 2020 by the Voluntary Regulator, it states there are currently 552 organisations with approved housing body (AHB) status and 282 of these organisations currently signed up to voluntary regulation. In time regulation will be a standard for all and for many that standard may bring about difficulties, difficulties in compliance or in the extra weight or difference in accountability it brings. I’ve no doubt every AHB in this country sees the accountability it has to its tenants; for many their raison d'être is to simply provide homes to their tenants and the accountability that goes with that is taken on without question. However, accountability under statutory regulation is different and some of our AHBs may not be suited to this arena. What is central to an AHB? Let me suggest: our tenants and their communities, our people, stability and growth. There is a startling symmetry to another sector, one who may, with some good will from the Central Bank, bring about a closer alignment through


We can learn from our friends in the credit union sector. With some assistance from the Central Bank, they will become a funder and party to the solution to the housing crisis we continue to battle with; we have seen successes and streamlining within the credit union sector which we can mirror in the housing sector, there are symmetries. An article I read recently quoted a director of a credit union who stressed the importance of viewing credit unions as equals, even when those merging are of different sizes. This is a fundamental lesson that can be taken as we attempt to navigate this terrain within our sector. All AHBs are equal and any consideration around mergers must start on that premise. When each party comes to the table as equals it can bring about a co-creation that allows for innovation, growth, and surety. Entering into discussions on an even keel can honour the roots of each organisations, bring about the clarity of purpose and allow for a focus on progression rather than insular thinking.

I challenge you as a director of an AHB, a staff member, a tenant or even an interested stakeholder, put mergers on your agenda, have the conversation as a board, open yourself up to the opportunities to do more, do better, do different because if the last year has taught us anything it is that we can and

consideration around mergers must start on that premise. When each party comes to the table as equals it can bring about a co-creation that allows for innovation, growth, and surety. Entering into discussions on an even keel can honour the roots of each organisation, bring about the clarity of purpose and allow for a focus on progression rather than insular thinking.” John Hannigan, CEO Circle Voluntary Housing Association do adapt, we overcome and we see the opportunities even when there first doesn’t appear to be any. The housing crisis lives on, in fact it thrives, and we need to consolidate in order to continue to tackle it head on, let us use our successes as a sector to adapt and overcome. Let us take comfort from another sector who treasures community and people, who have faced adversity and continue to grow, let us learn from our credit union friends and let’s strengthen those ties between us and talk about the opportunities that live in mergers, acquisitions and every variation that works for us.

T: 01 407 2110 E: Ereilly@circlevha.ie W: www.circlevha.ie WE HEAR: Willingness, Empowerment, Honesty, Excellence, Accountability and Respect because, when empowerment meets honesty, excellence, accountability and respect we can accomplish anything.

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Circle is very much a values-based organisation who have prized partnerships with specialised organisations and who are open to having those conversations with other organisations. We see the benefits to the sector, and we see how our purpose, to provide quality homes to people in housing need, can be achieved on a greater scale by engaging and working with other AHBs with a desire to engage in order to change the landscape of our sector in a positive way for the good of the many.

“All AHBs are equal and any Ireland’s housing magazine

funding options, but that’s a different topic. Credit unions, are people and community-focused and have in the last nine years reduced their numbers through mergers from 409 in 2011 to 229 as of September 2020.

If your board want to consider this topic further and are seeking a partner, reach out to us, have the conversation, as our values say WE HEAR and we are open to listening to what you and your organisation can bring to that conversation.

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Housing first: Eradicating homelessness Saija Turunen. Credit: Juha Kahila.

The Y-Foundation’s Saija Turunen discusses how a housing first approach in Finland has seen the country close in on its ambitions to eradicate homelessness by 2027. Highlighting that Finland is currently the only EU country where the number of homelessness people is on the decline, Turunen points to a dedicated and sustained focus to addressing homelessness in Finland which has seen an almost 80 per cent decrease in homelessness numbers over the past 35 years. Turunen is a Research Manager at Finland’s Y-Foundation, set up in 1985 as a response to a serious housing shortage in the country. The organisation now owns over 17,000 apartments in over 50 cities and

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municipalities in Finland, making it Finland’s fourth largest landlord, and was a leading developer of the housing first principle. Turunen confirms that the Y-Foundation’s latest 2020-2030 strategy aligns with the Government’s ambition to halve homeless numbers in Finland by 2023 and totally eradicate homelessness by 2027. This ambition is realistic when considering the steady progress Finland has been making, not least in reducing homelessness numbers from 20,000 in

1985 to 4,341 in 2020. Of those 4,341 homeless people, only 1,054 are classed as ‘long-term’ homeless. Interestingly, the number of families experiencing homelessness in Finland has fallen by 85 per cent since 1987, down to 201 families in 2020. “The situation has not always been brilliant and clearly it is not a quick fix,” explains Turunen. “You are talking about very persistent and committed work over 35 years to get to where we are today and still there is a lot of work to be done.”


by providing different kinds of housing, but housing is always the top priority,” she says.

“Everything we do in Finland is about housing first,” she states.

Adding: “In the housing first model, a dwelling is not a reward that a homeless person receives once their life is back on track. Instead, a dwelling is the foundation on which the rest of life is put back together. When a person has a roof securely over their head it is easier for them to focus on solving their other problems.”

The Research Manager points to research which suggests the economic benefit of this approach, with savings in emergency healthcare, social services and the justice system totalling around €15,000 annually for every homeless person in properly supported housing. Additionally, research for housing first units suggests that residents’ use of health, social and police services decrease by 34 per cent. However, she is quick to point out that the benefits to a housing first approach should not be measured in monetary value alone, with immeasurable benefits occurring for individuals, families, and society as a result.

Housing first Setting out that housing first is not simply a principle in Finland but also an operating model, Turunen points to two cornerstones of this model. The first is housing as a human right and the second is the provision of support if needed. Additionally, a third critical element of success in Finland is the provision that housing solutions are delivered where others are living. “All the work done for homeless people starts from the assumption that the first support measure should be the provision of housing. The work can be organised using different models and

Reiterating that the reduction in homelessness in Finland has been a centrally led process, over many decades, Turunen highlights the various iterations of national policy which began in 2008 with a recognition that more affordable housing was needed in the market. The construction and purchasing of new, affordable housing was one of the most important goals of the Finnish National Programme (PAAVO 1, 2008-2011). Both PAAVO 1 and PAAVO 2 (2012-2015), the nation’s second programme for government, focused on tackling long-term homelessness and saw a large conversion of shelters to permanent housing solutions. Highlighting the State’s strength of conviction to ending homelessness, Turunen flags that commitment towards reducing homelessness remained a priority throughout the economic recession which began in 2008, even as cuts were made to many other public services. Finland’s third national strategy from 2016–2019 took a greater focus on

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Key to success to date is the inclusion of the housing first principle in the national strategy since 2008.

homelessness prevention and the current programme 2020-2022 has evolved further, decentralising a lot of responsibility to local levels within cities. “Critical to the success of these successive strategies has been the continued political will and commitment to eradicating homelessness,” explains Turunen.

Halving homelessness The importance of measurable quantitative goals is highlighted by Turunen, who points to a cooperation programme within the national strategy to eradicate homelessness by 2027 which aims to halve homelessness by 2023. Key elements of the plan include city-specific plans for the 11 cities with the largest homelessness numbers, increased social housing share within new housing areas from 25 per cent to 30 per cent (rising to 35 per cent post2023), impact investing, a move to make housing advisory services statutory and the development of new low threshold services and forms of support in scattered housing. These plans build on the successes to date, the main elements of which have been systemic change from temporary accommodation solutions to the delivery of permanent homes, the role of housing advisors in preventing evictions and the inclusion of experienced experts in planning. Interestingly, the Y-Foundation is not solely focused on eradicating homelessness in Finland but also

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Ireland’s housing magazine Väinölä Housing First Unit from Espoo, Finland. Credit: Jouni Törmänen.

“To end homelessness, we need a systemic change. To change the system of homelessness policy and services we need an adequate and accessible social housing supply, universal access to welfare; a prevention first approach and a transition from emergency and temporary accommodation to permanent housing with housing first.” reducing it internationally. In this context, Turunen points to the importance, in a global context, of adopting the critical elements of: • housing first as a mainstream policy; • offering alternative housing solutions and tailor-made support; • offering permanent housing solutions; • ensuring social housing is affordable; • utilising Finland’s general housing benefit; and

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• implementation through partnerships, in a timely manner and with concrete goals. “To end homelessness, we need a systemic change. To change the system of homelessness policy and services we need an adequate and accessible social housing supply, universal access to welfare; a prevention first approach; and a transition from emergency and temporary accommodation to permanent housing with housing first,” she says.

Challenges However, the Research Manager is aware that challenges exist to progress in reducing homelessness. She identifies complacency of progress as a leading challenge but adds that even with success has come a recognition that a greater number of people now need a wider network of supports in the context if the pandemic and potential economic impacts. Looking specifically at Finland, Turunen says that intensive case management (ICM) has not always been intensive enough and there is a recognised lack of integration between basic health and social services. This, for example, has led to insufficient availability for drug users. Finally, Turunen states that as is common in other areas of Europe, the ‘not in my back yard’ way of thinking is still persistent in some parts, particularly affluent, parts of Finland. This has not been helped by an uneven development of housing first thinking and practice across various stakeholders.


Supporting the post-Covid recovery: Building more homes for more people

John Hannigan (L) and Sean O’Connor (R)

The core objective of the Housing Alliance is to achieve a step change in the increased delivery of new social and affordable homes. The Alliance recently appointed Sean O’Connor as its new Chairman and John Hannigan as Vice Chairman. Sean is CEO of Tuath and a Chartered Surveyor, John is CEO of Circle and a chartered accountant — between them is over 60 years’ housing experience. for all and see house building as a vital investment for future generations of tomorrow and a driver of economic activity today, as Ireland seeks to recover from the pandemic. In its submission to government on its Housing for All policy consultation, the Housing Alliance called for: • An increase in the social housing stock by a minimum of 50,000 new build homes over the next five years and a commitment with the not-forprofit AHB sector to the delivery of at least 50 per cent of the overall minimum target, or 25,000 homes.

• Recognition of the importance of retrofitting existing social homes and the provision of high speed, affordable broadband nationwide in the context of equality of opportunity and the creation of sustainable communities. To encourage retrofitting spend, the Alliance asks for a VAT waiver on property decarbonisation expenditure to improve the energy efficiency of existing AHB homes and to eliminate fuel poverty amongst tenants. • The Department of Housing and other government bodies to work with the AHB sector to return AHBs to their former status of ‘non-profit institutions serving households’ status as quickly as possible. • The Government to define ‘affordability’ and for an ‘affordable’ rent to be measured as a percentage of a household’s income, preferably not exceeding 30 per cent of net income and that a five-year budget be allocated to support a significant Affordable Rental building programme.

Contact: W: www.housingalliance.ie E: info@housingalliance.ie

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The Housing Alliance is a collaboration of six of Ireland’s largest approved housing bodies (AHBs): Clúid Housing, Circle Voluntary Housing, Co-operative Housing Ireland, Oaklee Housing, Respond and Tuath Housing. To deliver much-needed social housing, the Housing Alliance intends to work in partnership with the Government, local authorities, The Housing Agency, funders, including the HFA and the private sector. Collectively, the Alliance is responsible for over 28,000 homes nationwide and collectively delivered over 3,800 new homes in 2020. Its goal is to deliver high-quality housing at best value and to provide first-class services to tenants. It welcomes the Government’s commitment to ensuring that housing is made more affordable

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determine the tenure breakdown based on local need and preferred mix for the area. In order to encourage new building, the Alliance asks for VAT and development levies to be waived on AHB development in order to reduce the overall cost of production and to lower tenant rents.

• An increase in Part V housing delivery to a minimum 20 per cent social and affordable with discretion remaining with local authorities to

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Affordable Housing Bill published

In May 2021, the Cabinet approved the Affordable Housing Bill brought forward by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien TD, which will see the coalition government attempt to put its own stamp on solving the issues in Irish housing. Speaking after the approval of the Bill by Cabinet members, O’Brien said that the Bill was “delivering on the Programme for Government commitment to put affordability at the heart of the housing system and to prioritise the increased supply of affordable homes”. “For the first time in over a decade we will be empowering local authorities to deliver affordable homes for purchase on their own lands, meaning that middle income earners can be supported to own their own home,” the Minister said. The Bill is the first “comprehensive standalone legislation dedicated to the provision of affordable housing” in the history of the State. Notable elements within the Bill include:

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• the first scheme of direct State-built affordable homes in over a decade; • the first ever national scheme to provide for the delivery of cost rental housing; • a new affordable purchase shared equity scheme for homes in private developments; and • provision for the extension of Part V to a set 20 per cent in every local authority area with a 10 per cent minimum requirement for social homes and a further 10 per cent requirement for affordable homes, where required.


Shared equity

The Cost Rental Equity Loan (CREL) scheme, which was announced as part of Budget 2021, has been included in the Bill. The scheme will see the Department make €35 million in loan funding available to approved housing bodies for the purpose of providing cost rental housing. The administration of the CREL funding and the making of loans to approved housing bodies will be managed by the Housing Agency.

Under the Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme, first-time buyers will share some of the equity in the home with the State, to a maximum of 20 per cent on the State’s part, in a bid to make housing more affordable for first-time buyers. Firsttime buyers will also be able to avail of the existing Help to Buy tax break, which is worth 10 per cent of the price up to €30,000, on a house that also avails of the shared equity scheme.

“Cost rental” is defined in the general scheme of the Bill as a dwelling “where the rent is set by the landlord or provider at a cost-covering level, as may be prescribed in regulations, but in any case so as to include: delivery/capital development costs; financing costs, including debt finance costs, interest charges and equity returns; management costs of the properties; and maintenance costs, including cyclical maintenance, life-cycling and sinking fund costs”, or a dwelling “that meets any additional requirements as may be prescribed in regulations”, or one that “is designated by the Minister by order… as a cost rental tenancy”.

Regional price caps have also been announced based on median prices within the regions: €225,000 for houses in some rural counties, but €450,000 in Dublin and Dún Laoghaire (and €500,000 for apartments there). The equity plan has been the most controversial of the plans included in the Bill, with O’Brien stating that there will be a zero-interest charge on the equity for the first five years, and 1.75 per cent between years six and 15.

Ireland’s housing magazine

The Cost Rental Equity Loan

Critics of the scheme such as the Central Bank, the ESRI and the Housing Agency have claimed that the equity charges will increase housing prices, citing studies that showed 6 per cent inflation following similar schemes in London. O’Brien has defended the scheme, claiming it will result in a 14 per cent increase in supply with only 1 per cent inflation.

Part V The Bill includes the extension of Part V, the component of the Development Acts 2000-2002 that allows a local authority to require developers to set aside up to 20 per cent of new developments of five or more houses for social or affordable housing. Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, if 35 per cent of income was not sufficient to enable someone to buy a house, they were eligible to purchase a Part V house. Under the new legislation of the Affordable Housing Bill, Part V provision will now be a set 20 per cent in each local authority area, with 10 per cent of new developments will have to be ringfenced for the provision of affordable housing “where required”, along with 10 per cent for the provision of social housing.

Serviced Sites Fund A major component of the discounted costs of both the rental and purchase schemes included within the Bill is the Serviced Sites Fund, a fund originally introduced in 2017 that allows the Government to subsidise the cost associated with construction of new schemes by local authorities funding site infrastructure costs. Under the Affordable Housing Bill, the fund will be used to subsidise the cost of each home by up to €50,000. Over €10 million of the fund was approved for use in the provision of 238 affordable purchase houses in Donabate, County Dublin in April 2021. The fund aims at the construction of 6,000 affordable purchase homes, although it has failed to meet its targets since its inception.

49


Retrofitting Ireland’s homes Ireland’s housing magazine

enable 50,000 homes to be deep retrofitted each year from 2024-2025. The target of half-a-million homes equates to one-third of homes in the Irish market. In 2019, 2,000 homes were deep retrofitted. In 2020, that figure rose to 4,000 with support from SEAI and local authorities. The 2021 national target is 13,000 home retrofits between SEAI and local authorities, however losing over four months due to the Covid lockdown will have a significant impact on this.

Declan Meally, Head of Transport and Communities at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

Declan Meally, Head of Transport and Communities at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) outlines the National Retrofit Programme that will see 500,000 homes, one-third of Ireland’s housing stock, retrofitted to a B2 BER by 2030.

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Ireland has an ambitious Climate Action Plan that includes the deep retrofitting of 500,000 homes to BER B2/cost optimal or carbon equivalent and the installation of 400,000 heat pumps by 2030. To determine the pathway to these targets the Government set up a Retrofit Taskforce, which broke the programme down into four pillars: 1. increase market demand for retrofitting homes; 2. finance and design of incentives; 3. developing the supply chain; and 4. the governance arrangements for the programme. As part of the Climate Action Plan, the Minister for the Environment, Climate and 50

Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, formally nominated SEAI as the National Retrofit Delivery Body in October 2020. SEAI has a solid track record in retrofitting homes with 400,000 homes retrofitted to date. Although a lot of these where ‘shallow measures’, SEAI has developed substantial expertise of deeper retrofits through a number of pilot programmes.

Programme development The initial two years of the programme will constitute the ‘ramping up’ phase, which will involve developing the supply chain and delivery structures. This phase will see the piloting and testing of the various aspects of the programme to

In 2022 there will be a step change to 30,000 homes per year and another step up to 50,000 homes per year in 2024. The Government Retrofit Taskforce is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) and is comprised of key stakeholders including senior representatives from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Finance, SEAI, the County and City Managers Association and National Treasury Management Agency. The Taskforce will report later this year on the various aspects of the programme. In the meantime, SEAI is getting on with its own work programme that entails scaling up its delivery programmes and using the knowledge to develop a work programme over the next two-to-three years.

Challenges Although there are significant challenges across all of the four pillars of the programme, the learning curve has garnered useful lessons about deep retrofitting homes in Ireland in recent years. One of the main challenges involves the supply chain. Is the market going to be able to scale up to the number of retrofits required?


Some initial estimates which are being validated by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to determine the skills and numbers of people required to deliver the programme found that between 20,000 and 30,000 people would be needed across all the skills and at different levels. The Education and Training Boards already have centres of excellence for retrofitting skills up and running and the Department of Education and Skills is considering how this needs to evolve in parallel to the market uptake.

A key aspect of the National Retrofit Programme will be demand generation. A national demand generation programme is promoting and highlighting the benefits of a carbon neutral home with renewable heat and heat pumps to homeowners, including comfort and cost saving, alongside reduced emissions.

Ireland’s housing magazine

A further challenge has been the stopstart nature of the retrofitting market in Ireland to date. The Government has now given the market a clear indication of its ongoing commitment to retrofitting. In Project 2020, the National Development Plan allocated €3.7 billion to retrofitting. An additional €5 billion was added in the Programme for Government. This confirms that the Government is serious in supporting the retrofitting of homes. The overall cost of the programme will be €28 billion split between government and private funding.

“The National Retrofitting Programme is the workhorse of the Government’s Climate Action Plan for Irish Homes. It is a big challenge but with everyone’s shoulder to the wheel there is a good opportunity for success.” which will allow them to get good rates from the contactors. There have been good examples of this in some local authorities and this is also part of a pilot through the Midlands Retrofit Programme.

a big challenge but with everyone’s shoulder to the wheel there is a good opportunity for success. Internally, SEAI is streamlining its processes to give homeowners and contractors a fast turnaround for grant

National Retrofitting Programme The main objective of the National Retrofitting Programme incorporates a home assessment and audit to produce a detailed energy upgrade list. This consists of insulation, air tightness of the house and electrifying the heating by using a heat pump. Using existing technologies, a core mission is to educate homeowners on how a heat pump works and the subsequent significant reduction on their fossil fuel bills. Although electricity bills will increase, this is offset by savings on heating costs.

Meanwhile, SEAI is also exploring ways to work with local authorities so that all privately owned homes can realise the benefits and avail of the opportunity of having contractors working in their area

applications. This will help keep the

We want to make all aspects of the scheme easy for homeowners; to understand and to make a grant application, to deal with the contractors or to avail of finance. The ambition is for the market to provide a one-stop-shop energy upgrade service for homeowners and since developing an initial call in 2020 we have attracted applications from 22 potential one-stop-shop organisations.

60,000 homes a year in the early days of

We have a number of energy companies involved, including Electric Ireland’s partnership with Tipperary Energy Agency and SSE’s partnership with An Post. We also have secured the cooperation of retrofitting providers and insulation companies alongside several community groups. The banks and credit unions are also getting involved as there is a need for an authorised financial body for any retrofitting loans to provide the home owners matching funding.

of heat pump installation and other

supply chain moving. We completed retrofitting, albeit on ‘shallow measures’. Between 2011 and 2012, we surged from zero to 60,000 a year, showing that it can be done. Now, there is a step change in the amount of money involved. A shallow retrofit can cost between €4,000 and €10,000, whereas a deep retrofit can range from €20,000 to €30,000 in terms measures. It is up to us to show the homeowner that there is real value in

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SEAI is encouraging homeowners to comprehensively upgrade their homes in one go rather than adopting a gradual approach. As such, we are incentivising them to do that. The Government is also funding local authorities to retrofit council-owned homes at 100 per cent.

One-stop-shop

deep retrofitting, highlighting the generous incentives through the various grant programmes.

Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland 3 Park Place, Hatch Street Upper Dublin 2, D02 FX65 T: 01 8082 100

The National Retrofitting Programme is the workhorse of the Government’s Climate Action Plan for Irish homes. It is

E: info@seai.ie W: www.seai.ie

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Land Development Agency Bill 2021 •

the LDA is allocated Compulsory Purchase Order powers;

the LDA is mandated to work with local authorities, State agencies and other stakeholders to develop masterplans for strategic sites;

the LDA is subject to Freedom of Information;

the LDA required to provide regular updates to the Oireachtas;

the LDA uses modern methods of construction, including offsite construction, to deliver high quality sustainable homes quickly and at scale; and

the LDA would have first refusal to purchase any State lands being offered for sale.

The Bill The Shanganagh Castle site, Shankhill, Dublin.

The Land Development Agency Bill 2021 was published on 5 February 2021 and is intended to provide for the establishment of the Land Development Agency (LDA) under primary legislation. While established as an interim entity under secondary legislation in September 2018, the 2020 Programme for Government (PfG) commits to placing the LDA on a statutory basis under its Housing for All mission. Since its establishment, the LDA has been primarily tasked with collaborating with approved housing bodies (AHBs), the 31 local authorities and other relevant public bodies to implement land development strategies to address housing deficiencies.

primary objective will be “to work with government departments, local authorities, state agencies and other stakeholders to assemble strategic sites in urban areas and ensure the sustainable development of social and affordable homes for rent and purchase”.

52

Aside from the establishment of the LDA, the Land Development Agency Bill 2021 has 16 specific purposes, all relating to the overarching objective of addressing housing demand by increasing the supply of all types of housing across the State, utilising public to do so. These purposes include: •

enabling urgent measures to increase the supply of housing in the State, particularly affordable and social housing;

enabling the sustainable development of new and regenerated communities;

developing and regenerating relevant public land for the delivery of housing;

tackling long-term housing shortage and increasing access to housing in the State;

promoting best practice in housing development; and

maintaining balanced land use.

Among its promise relating to the land management organisation, the Government committed to ensuring that: •

PfG “Mindful of the need to properly manage and utilise State-owned lands”, upon its formation, the Government committed to legislating for the LDA “as a matter of urgency”. The PfG indicates that its

When enacted, the LDA Bill will establish the LDA as a Designated Activity Company (DAC) that will operate as a commercial State entity, initially resourced €1.25 billion from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), with a borrowing capacity of €1.25 billion.

the LDA is tasked with driving strategic land assembly to ensure the sustainable development of new and regenerated communities well-served by essential services; the LDA Board includes a cross spectrum of housing, financial, governance and other independent experts;


A major objective of the LDA is the delivery of 150,000 new homes by 2040. As of May 2021, the LDA portfolio comprises 12 sites (see table) across the country, eight of which are being directly developed by the land management organisation itself and four of which are being developed in conjunction with local authorities. The eight publicly owned sites have the potential to deliver 3,000 new homes with additional potential for 7,000 new homes.

The Bill also provides that the LDA will have: •

first refusal on the purchase of public land;

accountability to the Oireachtas; and

Compulsory Purchase Order powers.

Commentary Upon publication of the Bill, the LDA stated: “The publication of the Bill is a critical step towards confirming the LDA’s mandate and supports the role that the Agency will play in addressing Ireland’s housing and land management needs. Its enactment will provide a legislative grounding for one of our key strategies of partnering and collaborating with local authorities. The Bill squarely focuses the LDA on improving housing affordability, which is consistent with our approach to date… From a standing start, our work to date has us well positioned to commence the delivery of major new homes projects and to deliver on our forthcoming mandate.” Publishing the Bill, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien TD stated: “In response to the pre-legislative scrutiny and by way of amending the initial LDA Bill General Scheme, we have ensured there is greater flexibility on the public lands affordability requirement, more clarity on the transfer of public lands to the LDA including a ‘first refusal’ clause along with appropriate CPO powers for the LDA. “There is also a specific commitment to sustainable communities and best environmental practise, while the agency will be subject to FOI and enhanced Oireachtas committee accountability. “Local authorities can transfer lands to

Government is proposing is a State-wide residential developer of urban areas of over 30,000 in population.

“Ultimately, through this Bill, the LDA will be empowered to provide homes for affordable purchase, cost rental and social housing – another step in the Government’s direction of Housing for All.”

“The most revealing thing is when I asked the LDA at a recent Oireachtas Housing Committee what their pipeline of delivery was – when the first homes would be delivered – [it] said that the first homes won’t be delivered until 2023 and it’ll be between 200 and 600 units. It’ll then increase a little bit the following year and [it] should then go north of 1,000 units by 2025. This organisation was set up in 2018 and [it’s] telling us that it won’t have 1,000 units a year until after 2025.

Criticism Speaking with the Housing Magazine, Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin says: “This is a fundamentally bad idea. We desperately need an active land management agency; a non-commercial State agency with significant compulsory purchase order powers and a significant budget to ensure the adequate mobilisation and strategic best use of public land. That is not what we have got in the Bill. “In fact, the LDA will be able to do almost no strategic land management unless it has the active cooperation of the landowner. It has limited CPO powers and limited land activation functions. Essentially, what the

Ireland’s housing magazine

The Bill provides that the LDA will make 50 per cent of any housing subsequently provided on relevant public land available for affordable housing, with Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 obligating an additional 10 per cent (proposed to increase to 20 per cent under the Affordable Housing Bill 2021) for the provision of social and affordable housing.

the LDA without requiring a council vote, accelerating the process, clearing blockages and driving on development.

“Local authorities are best placed to deliver large volumes of public homes. They are democratically accountable to their elected members and they know the local housing conditions, system and market… If you want to deliver large volumes of public homes in the most effective way, you wouldn’t have an LDA as an active residential developer, you would have it as an active land management agency working in collaboration with local authorities.”

LDA projects (May 2021) Location

Size (acres)

Projected number Current status of units

Partner

Central Mental Hospital site, Dundrum, Dublin

28

1,300

Draft masterplan/Stage 4 public engagement

NA

Castlelands, Balbriggan, Dublin

60

800

Design team appointed

NA

Hacketstown, Skerries, Dublin 16.8

200 (estimated)

Preliminary design complete

NA

Devoy Barracks, Naas, Kildare

13.9

200 (estimated)

SHD Planning Application submitted to An Bord Pleanála

NA

Meath Hospital, Dublin

0.5

Under review

Design team appointed

NA

St Kevin’s Hospital, Cork

14.5

266

SHD planning application submitted

NA

Columb Barracks, Mullingar, Westmeath

24.7

100

Design team appointed

NA

Dyke Road, Galway

4.5

200

Preliminary design complete

NA

Shanganagh, Shankhill, Dublin

17.8

597

Preliminary design complete

Dún LaoghaireRathdown County Council

Colbert Station, Limerick

123

3,200 (estimated)

Preliminary design stage

Limerick City and County Council

Sandy Road, Galway

21

1,000 (estimated)

Preliminary design stage

Galway City Council

St Teresa’s Gardens

5.9

700

Design team appointed and public engagement underway

Dublin City Council

53


Ireland’s housing magazine

Is cost rental a feasible approach to increasing Ireland’s affordable housing supply? various stakeholders on aspects of the Bill, particularly the Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme, the Bill also introduces a new form of tenure known as cost rental which has been widely welcomed.

Fidelma McManus, Partner and Head of Housing with Beauchamps.

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Few would dispute that more homes must be built in Ireland, but perhaps the more pertinent question is how we build the right type of affordable homes, to meet the long-term diverse needs of Irish society. It is not an easy question to answer and naturally the varied stakeholders in the housing sector continue to stage their specific cases to government, writes Partner and Head of Housing with Beauchamps, Fidelma McManus. The Affordable Housing Bill 2021 and the Land Development Agency Bill 2021,

Affordable Housing Bill 2021

each published earlier this year by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage outline a multi-faceted approach to increasing housing supply with multiple policies proposed to address the affordability crisis. 54

Central to the Affordable Housing Bill 2021 (the Bill) are four schemes which put affordability as the key driver for reform and prioritise the increased supply of affordable homes. Whereas there has been significant criticism from

The existing models used to increase housing supply, such as, the ‘forward funding’ model, the ‘turnkey’ model and the various long-term leasing models available have been successful to varying degrees in delivering social housing (and of course we await with interest further details on the Government's Housing for All policy to replace the Rebuilding Ireland action plan), but they are not delivering affordable housing. Could the cost rental model be the new weapon in the fight to increase housing supply? Could it provide security of tenure with long-term affordable options for those who do not qualify for social housing?

What is the cost rental model of ownership? In essence, the principle of a cost rental model is that a state body such as a local authority, or an approved housing body (AHB), provides rental accommodation at affordable rates to those who are above the threshold for social housing but unable to afford to buy their own property or rent on the open market. This means the low rent charged is calculated to only cover the cost of delivering, managing, and maintaining the home. The cost rental model will have a statutory basis once the Bill is enacted by virtue of a cost rental scheme. It is expected that the first homes in this scheme will be delivered later in 2021 at a minimum of 25 per cent below market value. It is important to note that cost rental is intended to complement social housing, adding to the public housing stock by leveraging the proven expertise and capacity of the AHB sector,


demonstrated in their development and management of social housing units. It is envisaged these homes will be made available to applicants who meet defined eligibility criteria, which will be set in advance of the completion of the first projects. If a scheme is over-subscribed, landlords will select tenants via a lottery process.

The Bill specifically introduces a new Cost Rental Equity Loan (CREL) to provide for cost rental tenancies, which is extremely welcome news. For any cost rental model to succeed, low-cost, long-term, and stable finance is required. Therefore, the Government's CREL scheme is a big step forward for the cost rental model. The €35 million made available by the Government will be in the form of longterm loans on ‘favourable terms’ – meaning low interest rates. This is intended to cover up to 30 per cent of the development or acquisition cost to AHBs for new cost rental homes with a further €100 million of long-term commercial loans to be made available by the Housing Finance Agency, to meet the remaining development cost gap for AHBs. The Government announced that this fund will support AHBs to deliver approximately 390 cost rental homes in 2021, prior to delivery of further homes by the Land Development Agency and forms part of a larger allocation of €468 million for all housing affordability measures.

Will the cost rental model work?

Closer to home, the Enniskerry Road Cost Rental Project, a pilot scheme for the cost rental model, which Beauchamps worked closely with Respond on in conjunction with Tuath Housing, demonstrated to government that this type of cost rental scheme can work in providing a solution to a significant gap in the market. It is testament to all those involved in the Enniskerry Road Cost Rental Project, that the evidence provided contributed

“It is testament to all those involved in the Enniskerry Road Cost Rental Project, that the evidence provided contributed to the government greenlighting the expansion of the cost rental model.” Fidelma McManus, Partner and Head of Housing, Beauchamps

to the government green-lighting the expansion of the cost rental model. The announcement of the CREL, and the selection of the AHB sector to deliver such projects, acknowledges the proven expertise and capacity of AHBs across the housing sector.

Conclusion While the notion of land ownership, and home ownership, is an important life goal for many in Irish society and could be said to be a distinct element of Irish culture in a way that it is not for much of Europe, for whatever reason, there are many in our society who will not reach this goal. They should nevertheless be afforded the same long-term housing security as those able to afford to buy their own homes or those who qualify for social housing. The CREL scheme is no doubt an important step forward in providing this housing security for those who could not otherwise achieve this.

It remains to be seen whether the delivery targets of 390 cost rental homes in 2021 and beyond are ambitious enough, and indeed whether the funding to be made available by the Government is enough, to truly have a meaningful impact on the housing sector. However, the hope and expectation is that the cost rental scheme introduced in the Bill and the 2021 supply of 390 cost rental homes will prove successful to the extent that it can be implemented across the board as a feasible strategy, resulting in increased affordable housing supply across Ireland.

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When looking further afield, the Vienna Model is a popular and proven example of a cost rental scheme that has delivered sustainable and high-quality affordable housing in the Austrian capital and a model that we should look to replicate here.

Ireland’s housing magazine

What has the Government done to facilitate the use of the cost rental model?

For more information, please contact: Fidelma McManus Partner and Head of Housing Beauchamps T: +353 (0)1 418 0600 E: f.mcmanus@beauchamps.ie 55


Numbeo comparison: Irish property prices Numbeo, “the world’s largest cost-of-living database”, crowd-sources global

Ireland’s housing magazine

data relating to quality-of-life, cost-of-living and property price indices. In its cost-of-living by country index for 2021, the price comparison website lists

Credit Alejandro Luengo

Ireland as the 12th most expensive country in the world.

Ireland Price-to-income ratio:

7.03

Mortgage as percentage of income:

49.04%

Loan affordability index:

2.04

Price-to-rent ratio (city centre):

16.12

Price-to-rent ratio (beyond city centre):

14.42

Gross rental yield (city centre):

6.20%

Gross rental yield (beyond city centre):

6.93%

Belfast

56

Price-to-income ratio:

3.80

Mortgage as percentage of income:

25.68%

Loan affordability index:

3.89

Price-to-rent ratio (city centre):

12.85

Price-to-rent ratio (beyond city centre):

12.93

Gross rental yield (city centre):

7.78%

Gross rental yield (beyond city centre):

7.73%


Price-to-income ratio: A basic measure for apartment purchase affordability (lower is better). It is calculated as the ratio of median apartment prices to median familial disposable income, expressed as years of income.

Mortgage as percentage of income: A ratio of the actual monthly cost of the mortgage to take-home family income, estimated using the average monthly salary (lower is better).

Loan affordability index: An inverse of mortgage as percentage of income (higher is better).

Price-to-rent ratio: The average cost of ownership divided by the received rent income (if buying to rent) or the estimated rent that would be paid if renting (if buying to own). Lower

values suggest that it is better to buy rather than rent, and higher values suggest that it is better to rent rather than buy. •

Gross rental yield: The total yearly gross rent divided by the house price as expressed in percentages (higher is better).

Ireland’s housing magazine

Credit: Yves Alarie

Numbeo’s property price index utilises several indices to compare information about residential property prices worldwide. These indices include:

Cork 5.85

Mortgage as percentage of income:

39.51%

Loan affordability index:

2.53

Price to rent ratio (city centre):

13.42

Price to rent ratio (beyond city centre):

12.41

Gross rental yield (city centre):

7.45%

Gross rental yield (beyond city centre):

8.06%

Dublin Price to income ratio:

8.69

Mortgage as percentage of income:

59.73%

Loan affordability index:

1.67

Price to rent ratio (city centre):

15.30

Gross rental yield (city centre):

6.54%

Gross rental yield (beyond city centre):

7.26%

Galway Price to income ratio:

7.46

Mortgage as percentage of income:

53.07%

Loan affordability index:

1.88

Price to rent ratio (city centre):

16.04

Price to rent ratio (beyond city centre):

16.06

Gross rental yield (city centre):

6.24%

Gross rental yield (beyond city centre):

6.23%

Credit: Conor Luddy

Credit: Gabriel Ramos

Price to income ratio:

57


Ireland’s housing magazine

Investment in long-term social leasing is part of the solution to Ireland’s housing problem There has been much focus in recent months on the concept of local authorities and approved housing bodies (AHBs) leasing residential accommodation on a long-term basis in an effort to help to reduce housing lists throughout Ireland, writes Shane Cahir, Director, Residential Capital Markets, CBRE Ireland.

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It must be stressed that long-term leasing is and should only ever be ‘part of’ a solution to delivering public sector housing, with the preference obviously being on the development of new stock and acquisition of housing through mechanisms such as Part V legislation. However, considering the sheer extent of the public sector housing need, with more than 61,880 households waiting to be housed, the fact that construction has been severely curtailed in the last 12 months due to lockdown and the fact that housing units are needed sooner rather than later and there is no time to be wasted with bureaucracy and procurement etc, there is certainly scope for more long-term leasing to help to address the severe shortage of public sector housing in the short to medium term. It can be seen that leasing is just part of the solution currently being pursued, with Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) being the most prevalent. Recent research from The Housing Agency suggests that only 52 per cent of the volume of long-term leasing envisaged in the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan for the period 2016–2021 had been achieved by the end of 2020. Of the 10,036 units

58

targeted to be achieved through longterm leasing specifically, only 5,221 were delivered by year-end 2020. The reality is that unlike the target of public sector housing units to be built in the period, which is now clearly looking unattainable, the target of 10,036 longterm leasing units could potentially still be achieved if local authorities

throughout the country embraced this concept and were open to leasing units on a long-term basis. Over the last two years, we have witnessed strong demand from investors, both Irish and international, to acquire housing that has been leased long-term, which in turn is helping to ensure

Dublin Social Housing Delivery 2020

4500 4000 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 Dublin City Council HAP

Fingal RAS

Built

South Dublin Acquired

Leased

Dún Laoghaire


or forward commit to blocks of modern purpose-built residential stock, which they will in turn lease in part or in full on a long-term basis to an approved housing body or the local authority. Some will have a preference for leasing directly to the local authority as opposed to an AHB.

Social Housing Delivery Progress Source: The Housing Agency

40,000 35,000

34,210

Target Delivery 2016–2021

Delivered by end 2020

25,000

22,977

20,000 15,000 10,857 10,000

10,036

6,830

5,221

5,000 0 Build

deliverability of much-needed new stock. While initially this took the form of leases on individual houses and apartments, more recently, we have seen long-term leasing on blocks of units. We should be embracing this investment on the basis that it is facilitating the delivery of quality residential accommodation for local authorities that might not otherwise be developed, to help them to tackle their high housing lists.

Our expertise in this very specialist investment sector is copperfastened by best-in-class expertise from our CBRE colleagues in other jurisdictions where long-term leasing is well established. Investor demand for long-term residential

Lease

investments is in line with trends elsewhere in Europe and the UK where the investment market for public housing is well established and institutional capital, pension funds, private equity investors and other specialist investors regularly invest in public housing provision. Until recently, there was no standard leasing mechanism in place to facilitate this form of investment in the Irish market with a combination of approaches being adopted including the Standard Lease (which was the structure commonly used for leasing individual property assets historically) and more recently the Enhanced Lease (a structure specifically designed for block leasing), which was adopted in the Dundrum transaction mentioned above. More recently, a more institutionally acceptable standard lease for entire developments has been developed, opening up this investment option to new investors. The mechanism is therefore now in place to facilitate more long-term leasing in the Irish market, and we should capitalise on the volume of capital looking to deploy into this sector considering the extent to which it can help local authorities to reduce their housing lists. Some investors will be willing to consider a pepper-pot approach (building a portfolio by acquiring individual mainly second-hand housing units over time) while most investors will specifically look to acquire

This is not just a Dublin problem, however. Demand for local authority housing is also high throughout the country with particular demand in Cork City and Cork County, Kildare, Kerry and Limerick. Long-term leasing is a solution that can be pursued everywhere in the country so we would encourage all local authorities to consider it as a potential solution. Although it is clear that there are significant public housing shortages throughout the country, international investors are likely to seek a Dublin weighting and are likely to focus on cities before considering investing in other locations. Domestic investors are more likely to adopt a national approach. 27 per cent of all households on the housing list in 2020 have been waiting an average of seven years to be housed, illustrating the extent of undersupply of public housing provision in Ireland in recent years and the need to increase delivery at this juncture. Long-term leasing is one part of an overall solution to this and CBRE Ireland will be delighted to talk to anyone seeking to learn more about this emerging sector. It is clear that collaboration between the private and public sector has a significant part to play in increasing delivery of much-needed public housing and that private sector investment in public housing will assist government in their aspiration to deliver 50,000 social houses over the lifetime of the current administration.

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CBRE Ireland have been instrumental in some of the most notable transactions in this space in the last two years including the acquisition last year by the German fund Real IS of 87 units leased to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in the Herbert Hill scheme in Dundrum in south Dublin. In recent months, we were involved in the sale of the Marina Village development in Greystones, County Wicklow and recently agreed the investment sale of a block of more than 60 new build apartments in South Dublin, which will be let on a 25-year lease to the local authority. We will shortly be launching the sale of a portfolio of 55 socially leased houses and apartments to the market, a transaction with a lot size of approximately €21 million which we expect will be competitively bid.

Acquire

Ireland’s housing magazine

Of the 61,880 households in need of housing when the Housing Agency research was last conducted at the end of 2020, 43 per cent of households qualifying for social housing and waiting to be housed were located in the Dublin region with 53 per cent of these located in the Dublin City Council local authority area specifically.

30,000

T: 01 618 5500 E: shane.cahir@cbre.com W: www.cbre.ie

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Rent Pressure Zones to be replaced

Ireland’s housing magazine

The existing rent pressure zone (RPZ) system will remain in place until 31 December 2021. Beyond this point, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD has indicated that his department is devising a new replacement system set to be unveiled in late 2021. A Rent Pressure Zone is a designated area within which rents cannot be increased by more than 4 per cent per annum on new and existing tenancies. An area is determined to be an RPZ if the average rent in the previous quarter exceeds the average national rent in the quarter; and if the annual rate of rent inflation in the area has been 7 per cent or more in four of the previous six quarters.

average rent in Dublin increased by 1.2 per cent, the most

These designated areas are located in regions where affordable accommodation is most scarce and are intended to curtail the rise in rents, creating a more stable and sustainable rental market.

Overall, rents increased by 1.7 per cent nationally, year-on-year,

In addition, taking effect from 4 June 2019, the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 introduced three new criterion relating to standardised average rents for RPZ designation.

significant quarterly gain there since Q3 2018. Elsewhere, in Connacht-Ulster, rents increased by 4.6 per cent in Q1 alone, marking the second ever largest quarterly gain there, with rents are almost 8 per cent higher than one year ago. In Munster, the increase over the last year is 8.8 per cent, while in Leinster (excluding Dublin), year-on-year inflation exceeded 6 per cent. marking the 35th consecutive quarter whereby rents are greater than one year ago.

Reform Speaking with the Housing Magazine, Minister O’Brien stated: “I believe the rent pressure zones, introduced in 2016, which had

1. Dublin areas continue to be compared to the national standardised average rent.

a cap of 4 per cent on rent increases, became a target for some

2. The Greater Dublin Area is compared to the national standardised average rent excluding Dublin.

with my department on options for their replacement as part of

3. Areas beyond the Dublin and the Greater Dublin Area are compared to the national standardised average rent excluding Dublin and the Greater Dublin Area.

Rent increases The Daft.ie Irish Rental Report for Q1 2021 outlines that the average rent nationally is €1,443. In the first quarter of 2021,

instead, these RPZs expire at the end of 2021 and I am working an overall rent reform Bill which will be brought forward in the autumn.” Calling for a three-year rent freeze, Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD commented: “I welcome that the Minister for Housing has finally accepted that rent pressure zones were not the solution to tackle rising rents and that the 4 per cent annual increase permitted was seen as a target for many landlords, as opposed to a limit.”

Current rent pressure zones

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Date designated

Area(s)

24 December 2016

Dublin City Council, South Dublin County Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Fingal County Council, and Cork City Council

27 January 2017

Ballincollig–Carrigaline, Co Cork, Galway City Council, Galway City East, Galway City West, Naas, Co Kildare, Newbridge, Co Kildare, Celbridge-Leixlip, Co Kildare, Ashbourne, Co Meath, Laytown-Bettystown, Co Meath, Ratoath, Co Meath, Bray, Co Wicklow and Wicklow, Co Wicklow

24 March 2017

Cobh, Co Cork, and Maynooth, Co Kildare

22 September 2017

Greystones, Co Wicklow, and Drogheda, Co Louth

28 March 2019

Navan, Co Meath, and Limerick City East, Co Limerick

2 July 2019

Fermoy, Co Cork, Midleton, Co Cork, Athenry-Oranmore, Co Galway, Gort-Kinvara, Co Galway, Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny, Portlaoise, Co Laois, Graiguecullen-Portarlington, Co Laois, Limerick City West, Co Limerick, Limerick City North, Co Limerick, Dundalk-Carlingford, Co Louth, Dundalk South, Co Louth, Ardee, Co Louth, Kells, Co Meath, Trim, Co Meath, Waterford City South, Co Waterford, Waterford City East, Co Waterford, Athlone, Co Westmeath, Gorey, Co Wexford, and Arklow, Co Wicklow

26 September 2019

Carlow, Co Carlow, and Macroom, Co Cork

18 December 2019

Cobh (to include Watergrasshill), Co Cork, Piltown, Co Kilkenny, Strandhill, Co Sligo, and Baltinglass, Co Wicklow

22 April 2020

Mallow, Co Cork, Killarney, Co Kerry, Athy, Co Kildare, Tullamore, Co Offaly, Mullingar, Co Westmeath

16 July 2020

Bandon-Kinsale, Co Cork

29 September 2020

Kildare County Council


Driving the retrofit wave

Launched in September 2020, the National Home Retrofit Scheme is administered by the SEAI and aims to encourage the development of one-stopshops, engaging groups of private households, approved housing bodies (AHBs) and local authorities which want to deliver home energy efficiency upgrades.

Following the publication of Ireland’s retrofit targets in the Climate Action Plan in 2019 and Programme for Government in 2020, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) was designated as the National Retrofit Delivery Body. Chief Executive Officer

“Recognising that local authorities and AHBs have significant housing stock, we will partner with them to drive economies of scale and leave no opportunity behind. The SEAI will be providing support to these organisations, creating an ecosystem that delivers larger, more efficient, aggregated projects to drive the cost of retrofit down,” the SEAI CEO asserts. The National Home Retrofit Scheme aims to achieve deeper upgrades of homes at scale, while ensuring good governance and cost control. Its design is conducive to the transition to the new retrofit delivery model being developed by the Retrofit Task Force.

National Programme

rationale informing the

The scheme comprises an area-based approach to retrofitting and the one-stopshop model brings together diverse elements of retrofit projects, including demand generation, home assessments, grant application, contractor engagement, project management, quality assurance and finance provision.

National Retrofit Programme.

Contextualising energy use in Irish homes, the SEAI CEO explains that close to one-quarter of Ireland’s total energy use is consumed in homes, and the sector is responsible for approximately one-quarter of energy related CO2 emissions. Against this backdrop, there has been a significant intensification in the scale, pace and depth of Ireland’s retrofitting

There are four dimensions to the scheme, Walsh indicates. “The first is driving demand and activity. How do we get homeowners to engage? The second is financing and funding models. When we engage homeowners, what are the financing and funding models that will attract them to invest in their homes? The third is the supply chain, skills, and

Emphasising the structures and governance dimension, the SEAI CEO highlights the need to devise the optimal delivery structure, identify roles for different players, and ascertain the capabilities required. “We will be retrofitting close to 50,000 homes each year. Even at a 35 per cent grant, investment will be around €1 billion per year, so having the right structures in place, to safeguard public monies, is an imperative,” he insists.

Conclusion Closing the conversation, Walsh emphasises the cross-party enthusiasm for the scheme. “The Minister and the Joint Oireachtas Committee have been huge supporters. Through the Climate Action Plan and the updates to the Climate Action Plan for 2021, we are clear what the trajectory is, what the expectations are and what must be done. “Our contractors and our partners for the one-stop-shop model are coming together and already piloting the scheme with projects on the ground, and we anticipate the delivery of a significant number of B2s in 2021. The best ambassadors for the scheme are those homeowners who live in warmer, more comfortable, and more cost-efficient homes. Word of mouth will be a key driver of Ireland’s retrofit wave,” he concludes.

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William Walsh outlines the

standards. The most significant challenge of all is attracting the 30,000 people we need into this industry, while ensuring standards that inspire trust and confidence in the system. Finally, we have to ensure that the structures and governance are strong.”

Ireland’s housing magazine

ambition. Both the Climate Action Plan and the Programme for Government commit to retrofitting 500,000 homes, or almost one-third of all residential buildings, to a Building Energy Rating of B2 by 2030 and to installing 400,000 heat pumps in existing buildings in the same period.

Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland 3 Park Place, Hatch Street Upper Dublin 2, D02 FX65 T: 01 8082 100 W: www.seai.ie E: info@seai.ie

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Delivering homes and creating communities its challenges and its opportunities. Taking up her position in the middle of a pandemic whilst overseeing a comprehensive restructuring of her new team has been no mean feat. To deliver Oaklee’s goal of exceptional customer services, resources have been bolstered and the skills required to deliver outstanding services to tenants have been sourced. Responsibilities pre- and post-tenant nomination and allocation are specified and understood while cross departmental collaboration and communication has been sharpened. A full audit of contractor performance has taken place across property maintenance as well as our health and safety regimes and strong benchmarks have been established.

WESTON, Swords, County Dublin.

As the conversation about the delivery of social and affordable housing across the country dominates almost every news outlet, one could be forgiven for forgetting that for approved housing bodies (AHBs), the delivery of quality social homes is just one part of their mission. Director of Operational Performance Caroline Casserly discusses Oaklee Housing’s comprehensive contribution throughout the pandemic. Advertorial

As with all AHBs, Oaklee Housing is not politically motivated. We are a not-forprofit organisation with a social purpose. Our aim is to work collaboratively with our partners and stakeholders to deliver high quality social housing and provide exceptional services to our tenants. Our housing by its very nature as a AHB is affordable. Oaklee relies on, and indeed contributes to, the continued and sustained delivery of new homes, as has been expertly articulated by the many commentators and journalists debating the 62

Government's Housing for All strategy document. However, it is important to remember that for AHBs such as Oaklee Housing, once new homes are delivered and passed from the development team to operations team our attention shifts from developers to property and tenant managers in pursuit of building communities. For Caroline Casserly, the recently appointed Director of Operational Performance, Covid-19 presented both

The result is a finely tuned operation, split between housing and property services with the tenant central to what they do. Processes and procedures have been reviewed and recrafted for the ultimate benefit of Oaklee tenant. “This has been an exceptionally tough year for everyone in Oaklee,” says Casserly, adding: “We pulled ourselves apart and rebuilt the team from the bottom up. I am very proud of what we have achieved and look forward to seeing the fruits of our efforts in the coming months and years.” Working closely with the local authority, Oaklee Housing’s dedicated Housing & Property Services teams assist the nominated tenants to take up residence and so the new house becomes a new home. For many this could be their first home. It could be the home that takes them from the uncertainty of temporary accommodation, or the home that takes them from danger of living on the streets. These are the people behind the reports that have dominated the news channels in recent months. Oaklee Housing has a presence across


“Specific feedback coming from our Tenant Forum is that existing Oaklee Housing tenants are supportive of our unrelenting goal to deliver more homes. However, this is conditional on the fact that our continued growth is not at the expense of our existing tenant cohort,” Casserly explains. With this in mind, a specific and separate budget has been ringfenced by Oaklee for ongoing planned maintenance and neighbourhood improvements across their portfolio of existing properties. These works include fire remediation, home improvements, the upgrading of common areas as well as painting, fencing, replanting, and lighting of green spaces within their schemes. “Our entire tenant group is important to us, new and old. It is essential that this position is reflected in the work that we do. We need to invest as much time and effort in the homes that we already own and manage as we do in the new properties we plan to build and acquire,” the Director of Operational Performance outlines. This is a position reflected in the Oaklee Housing 3-year corporate strategy which includes the ‘Invest Wisely’ approach as one of the five key pillars upon which the strategy is founded.

Internally, the housing team was briefed, and processes adapted to make sure that having finally been offered a new home, tenants could move in safely and within the parameters of the government guidelines and restrictions. With nothing like this event to benchmark against, the opportunity was taken to put in place

Community Fun Day, Ardee, County Louth.

“For all AHBs, not just Oaklee Housing, what we do is more than delivering homes, and more again than placing people in homes. It’s about enabling and supporting our residents to create a sustainable community.” Caroline Casserly, Director of Operational Performance, Oaklee Housing

fresh systems and innovations from scratch, many of which will remain in place post-Covid. “For all AHBs, not just Oaklee Housing, what we do is more than delivering homes, and more again than placing people in homes. It’s about enabling and supporting our residents to create a sustainable community, one in which the tenant can integrate quickly and safely with long-term security of tenure on their side,” Casserly asserts. For Oaklee, effective communication is part of that journey. “The Covid crisis has been challenging,” she says, adding: “But the express communications revolution was remarkable. Overnight, our staff, tenants, friends and families, all had to learn how to stay connected digitally. This is something we will incorporate into our digital communications strategy once lockdown ends and the pandemic passes.” The success and participation levels by tenants has meant that plans to integrate SMS, web communications,

digital noticeboards, online tenant training, online community meetings, online tenant portal and payment platforms into day-to-day tenant engagement are well underway. Whilst the belief is that this should not replace human contact in the long-term, it has served to help reach out to tenants safely and quickly. Being so accessible to so many, it has allowed people to connect from the safety and comfort of their home. “That’s the key for us,” remarks Casserly, concluding: “What works for our tenants, works for us. The emphasis on maintaining services for the benefit of our current and future tenant group is as important as delivering the homes in which they will live.”

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Despite Covid-19, Oaklee added an additional 547 homes into its management, including 329 coming from Social Housing PPP Bundle 1 of which they are a partner in the consortium.

Ireland’s housing magazine

18 counties in the Republic, with a mix of general needs houses and apartments, schemes for the elderly as well as sheltered accommodation, Part V, mortgage-to-rent and co-living properties. Some of these properties are over 20 years old. And while the spotlight shines on new homes, Casserly believes that the portfolio of existing homes and the on-going maintenance and improvements required for their upkeep should not be lost in the conversation. The responsibility for which, once in Oaklee’s management, regardless of who delivered them, remains with the AHB.

Siobháin Bunni, Head of Communications & PR T: +353 (0) 86 194 2397 E: siobhain.bunni@oakleehousing.ie

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Credit: Sam Cox

Ireland’s housing magazine

Affordable housing: Lessons from Europe Secretary General for Housing Europe, Sorcha Edwards speaks to the Housing Magazine about the lessons Covid-19 has taught the affordable and social housing sector at European level. Housing Europe has been the main voice of approved housing bodies and their equivalents such as public housing providers, corporate housing providers, and housing associations from across the European Union for over 30 years. It is the European federation of public, cooperative and social housing that brings together 43,000 housing providers in 25 countries. Together they manage around 25 million homes, roughly 11 per cent of existing dwellings in Europe. “It’s quite a complex task because the systems are quite diverse, there are over 46,000 organisations at local level, and we have no such thing as a Department for Housing at EU level,” Edwards says. “The different legislations in different policy areas do have their risks and

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opportunities for our members so what we do is we have a constant relay of information about what is in the pipeline at European level in terms of financing, regulatory initiatives which might impact access to finance and also legislation linked to competition rules which may limit or expand their scope for activities and unexpected areas of impact, such as the services directive which impacts how short-term platforms are governed.” In the Irish context, Housing Europe represents the Irish Council of Social Housing and Cooperative Housing Ireland. With social housing reform and potential investment to the fore in Irish discourse before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for safe, high quality and affordable housing became even more pressing during the

health crisis. “We can clearly see that this is a real watershed moment for housing now and it is more important than ever to have a clear message at governmental, national and EU level,” Edwards says. “We have yet to see the full impact of this terrible period on households and on the sector, so we are gathering the statistics on the impact on the construction sector, the impact on households – very often we have a high portion of households living in social housing who have been directly impacted employment wise – and what we are doing at the moment is preparing the launch of our next State of Housing report, which will try to give a clearer picture of what the impact has been on the sector. We want to give the message


at the European level to expect the worst and prepare for the worst; a bit of a negative message but I think, even without the data, we can clearly see that there is going to be an increase in the need for affordable housing as many households take a really hard economic hit. Some of them have yet to see that hit really coming to the fore, so this is the clear message: prepare for the worst so that we can try to avoid more increased levels of housing exclusion.”

Edwards argues that, regardless of a vaccine rollout, the shift in working patterns will now see people at home more of the time, with more need for connectivity but also more need for access to the outdoors and quality public spaces, along with quality indoor spaces that give access to fresh air, and she recounts calls from those especially in Italy and Spain, where people were prohibited from leaving their homes for a time, for a change around the basic requirements around space, balconies and access to outdoors. Another lesson to be learned is that of housing that allows people to age in place independently, with just 20 per cent of homes around Europe fit to do so presently. With the approved housing bodies across Europe having been the first to renegotiate rents during the pandemic, Edwards sees the possibility for the kind of political turn needed as closer than it has ever been. “I have never seen this level of activity in Europe in my time here,” she says. “I have never seen the political recognition of the points I mentioned and their essential nature, but what we now have to really make sure of is that this is turned into not only shortterm actions like renovation schemes, but longer-term actions that support resilient systems. “This is what our task is at the moment. This is what the lesson has been, we

message before that housing is healthcare but now that is even more Ireland’s housing magazine

Yet in this crisis, Edwards sees hope in the way the sector has responded and how it has reaffirmed its importance: “We have really seen just how essential the work of the limited profit and nonprofit partners are and how they can really be relied upon to help build the resilience of households and communities at local level at times of crisis. We have heard the message before that housing is healthcare but now that is even more clear than ever it has to be considered just as essential as having a functioning health system to have a functioning and inclusive housing system.”

“We have heard the

clear than ever it has to be considered just as essential as having a functioning health system to have a functioning and inclusive housing system.” need to support people, the local economy and the big picture economy. The task is not only to turn this into policy at the national level, but also at the European level. The issue of housing as the highest expenditure for Europeans has not gone away, the Eurostat is still showing that. The proportion of income being spent, particularly by lower-income groups, is really a drain on the economy and putting extra pressure on those households and is something that is becoming more and more recognised. At European level, what is estimated is that 40 per cent of people who are in poverty are suffering what is described as an overburden rate, which is classed as people spending over 40 per cent of their income on housing.

from other member states.”

“It is probably too soon to call on that one but what we do see is that one of the asks from our members because of these extremely high prices was to look at successful policies around land for the delivery of affordable not for profit and limited profit housing. This obviously is a big challenge, and a new land agency has been set up in Ireland so there is a very good opportunity to draw on experience in this around the EU. I know Housing Europe’s research department has been in contact with the Housing Agency around that. There are quite a number of lessons to draw from that

around social housing since the

Concluding, Edwards says that the answers the social housing sector has offered during the pandemic, and the challenges to accepted wisdom, cannot be ignored: “When we have organisations like the OECD, which is really a reference point for governments for the regulation of markets, giving clear messages recognising how large nonprofit social housing has withstood the crisis in a positive way and are in a better position to build back better, this is a message that no government can ignore. We are seeing this as a signal that this is a time for a renewal and a change to the stigma that has developed neoliberal turn across Europe and globally. “I would really push back against the neoliberal accepted facts; it is an undeniable fact that the State has a responsibility to step in both for the individual but for the economic development as well. Affordable and social housing should not be a last resort, but part of the mainstream of a new framing of housing systems with social justice at the centre.”

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Homes for today and tomorrow In the construction boom years between 2002 and 2006/7, maximising construction output easily won out, albeit driven more by commerce than strategic planning.

Paddy Smyth, Real Estate Partner.

Joanna Bannon, Real Estate Associate.

Currently, the two biggest issues facing Ireland are housing and climate change. As such, green lending is helping to construct a more sustainable future. Fieldfisher Ireland real estate partner, Paddy Smyth, and

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real estate partner, Joanna Bannon, write.

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There is a growing demand across society to confront the threat of climate change with the introduction of climate mitigation strategies and renewable energy sources on a cross-sectoral basis. Housing energy is an area in which Ireland has traditionally fared badly compared with its European counterparts. Unusually for a modern western country, the residential sector in Ireland emits more CO2 than industry. Although this is partly due to Ireland’s lack of heavy industry, Ireland’s over-reliance on coal, peat and oil in our homes is a major driver.

considerable challenge and a momentous opportunity.

Add to that the high levels of upfront carbon emissions arising from the construction of homes and it is fair to say that the reduction of Ireland’s housing stock’s carbon footprint represents both a

This all begs the question, does the urgent need for housing trump the need to preserve the earth for future generations? Must we choose, or can these two needs be met simultaneously?

In parallel, there is a realisation that Ireland urgently needs a coherent housebuilding programme to provide social and affordable housing in greater numbers than has been achieved in decades. There is growing demand in the social housing sector which looks only set to increase due to current stock shortages, low death rate and high levels of immigration.

Conflicting ideals?

That said, 2006 did see the first foray by Irish legislators into the area of building energy efficiency with the introduction of Building Energy Rating (BER) certificates. Since then, all properties offered up for sale or letting must have a BER certificate. The impact of this measure was slow to reveal itself owing to the slowdown in transactions following 2008. However, the system is now having an impact on investment values of properties that perform well or badly. Furthermore, under the more recent Building Regulations prescribing the Zero Energy Building (nZEB) standard, all new buildings must be highly energy efficient. However, these measures focus on reducing building energy usage and associated carbon emissions rather than emissions produced in the construction phase. Given 11 per cent of global embodied CO2 emissions result from construction, that’s quite a gap.

More than one way to skin a flat? Incentivise through funding… Rather than restrict carbon emissions during construction through building regulations, what has emerged is a move towards incentivising environmentally responsible construction through improved lending terms.

Traditional funding arrangements Traditionally, lending decisions for housing developments have been based solely on financial performance and projections. However, the recent


introduction of debt financing for social housing means lenders borrow funds from the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Council of Europe Development Bank, and then lend onto local authorities and approved housing bodies (AHBs) to develop or purchase property. The HFA offers these loans on 25- or 30-year terms at low fixed rates.

Social housing projects offer scope for social impact investing as investors are increasingly focusing on ESG projects. Sustainable lending, which includes green loans and sustainability linked loans as well as other funding instruments (e.g. green bonds), have seen considerable growth particularly since 2018, when guidelines were first introduced. There are fundamental differences between GLs and SLLs. The proceeds of a GL must be for ‘green’ purposes such as renewable energy projects. SLLs have a broader application where pricing on the loan is connected to predetermined sustainability objectives.

Measuring ESG success Green Building Certification has seen a transformation from single criteria systems limited to energy use in the operation of a building, to multi-criteria systems that take a far more holistic analysis of factors such as energy sources, use of land, level of emissions, biodiversity, and environmental impact of materials. The focus is on the full life cycle of the building and its place within the eco-system of the local built environment, as opposed to an individual structure.

The Home Performance Index was developed by the Irish Green Building Council as the first comprehensive sustainability certification for new Irish homes. It goes well beyond the BER to

Conclusion Through the introduction of BER and Zero Energy Rating regulations, we have seen how legislative interventions can have a positive impact on construction standards. Market expectations have followed suit and there is an increasing focus on constructing higher quality, energy efficient housing. However, more needs to be done to negate the environmental harm caused during the construction process. Whereas owners have an identifiable interest in the energy efficiency of their property, and this ultimately results in a reduction of usage related emissions, the same is not true for the emissions caused during construction. This makes it all the more important that regulations are introduced to deal in some meaningful way with construction’s carbon footprint. However, the cost impact of this could be significant and there remains a reluctance among legislators to interfere to this degree, particularly at a time when the need for housing has seldom been greater or more urgent. The issue of cost has become even more pronounced during the Covid19 crisis, with lockdowns and global weather events resulting in building supplies shortages and a rise in the cost of building materials.

Nevertheless, as an EU member state, Ireland will undoubtedly attract increasing pressure in the coming years to further regulate this area. With mandated European targets, the risk of heavy fines at EU level will ultimately force the hand of Irish legislators to introduce regulations requiring all sectors to cut their emission levels and adopt sustainable green technologies. In the meantime, the growth of sustainability incentivised funding will lead to a greater demand in the market for a greener approach to construction and provide the means for supplying that demand economically. With the increasing demand for social housing and additional funding allocated for housing in the last budget, social housing is becoming increasingly attractive to developers and investors. These factors, combined with the impetus injected by green lending provides a basis for believing that over time we will see greater numbers of developers choose to adopt greener building practices and that those who do will be in pole position to adapt when the regulators eventually bite the bullet.

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Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI) has launched a new green loan product offering a discount of up to 0.5 per cent on loans to homebuilders for developments certified with Irish Green Building Council’s Home Performance Index certification. The HBFI Green Funding Product is the first Irish green financial product fully aligned to the Paris Agreement and EU taxonomy regulations.

address all the environmental impacts of new homes, such as the production of building materials, impact on ecology, pollution, water consumption and flood risk.

Ireland’s housing magazine

A ‘green loan’ (GL) versus a ‘sustainability-linked loan’ (SLL)?

“Through the introduction of BER and Zero Energy Rating regulations, we have seen how legislative interventions can have a positive impact on construction standards.”

For more information please contact: Paddy Smyth Partner, Real Estate T: +353 (0)1 828 0928 E: paddy.smyth@fieldisher.com

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Housing affordability in Ireland Credit: Lucas Miguel

Published in December 2020, Housing Affordability in Ireland is a European Commission economic brief. Authored by Maria Jose Doval Tedin and Violaine Faubert, the economic brief analyses the main factors behind increasing house prices in Ireland, alongside policy options to improve affordability. Housing prices in Ireland reached a nadir in 2013 following a collapse in housing demand amid the 2008 financial crisis. The previous year, in 2007, prices had peaked due to a construction boom and an accompanying surge in bank credit.

was 9.7 per cent. Since April 2018, these increases have slowed as house price inflation at the top end of the market has declined. As such, property prices remain 20 per cent below their 2007 peak.

As house prices increased from 2013 onwards, a shortage of housing supply has forced rents beyond pre-financial crash peaks, exacerbating affordability challenges for both tenants and homebuyers. However, unlike in the early 2000s, house price inflation is not a product of a construction boom and low interest rates.

Simultaneously, however, as at January 2020, rental prices were 32 per cent above their pre-crisis level. Following a 19 per cent decreases between 2008 and 2010, rents stabilised in 2011, limiting the extent of their adjustment. From 2013 to 2019, the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices recorded a 6.3 per cent average annual increase in rents.

In contrast to the pre-2008 era: • buy-to-let property investment has a minor role in mortgage credit growth, contributing to the tight supply in the rental market; • lending practices have become more prudent; and • while becoming more binding, credit conditions are not leading to a deterioration in lending standards.

Price increases As per the Residential Property Price Index, between 2013 and 2019, the average annual increase in house prices

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Both property and rental prices have outpaced household disposable income since 2013. However, while the affordability index for home buyers (housing price to income ratio) remains 27 per cent below its pre-crisis peak, the affordability index for tenants (rental price to income ratio) was 22 per cent above the pre-crisis level in mid-2019. Therefore, while affordability has worsened for both home buyers and tenants, it is a particular challenge for the latter. In 2016, more than three-quarters of households in the bottom income

quartile experienced housing costs exceeding one-third of their net income (55 per cent for monthly mortgage instalments and 40 per cent for rental payments). The affordability challenge is particularly acute for low-income households. In the same year, average monthly mortgage instalments for households in the second, third and fourth income quartiles represented 25 per cent, 20 per cent and 15 per cent of net income, respectively. Among tenants in the same quartiles, rental payments represented 30 per cent, 22 per cent and 17 per cent of net income. As such, the relative cost of housing is higher for tenants than home owners.

Housing delivery costs While national construction costs were comparable to other European averages, an International Construction Market survey undertaken by Turner and Townsend in 2019 identified Dublin as the third most expensive place in Europe to build residential units, behind London and Zurich. Tedin and Faubert identify several factors contributing to the high delivery cost of housing in Ireland. These include:


• the withdrawal of the UK from the EU; • the Nearly Zero Energy Building Regulation; • limited skills and labour capacity in the construction sector • relatively low productivity and greater labour intensity in the construction sector;

• a lack of competition among landbuyers.

Supply Meanwhile, existing housing stock cannot meet housing demand. CSO figures for Q1 2011 and Q1 2019 indicate that, overall, housing stock per capita decreased by 4 per cent. While housing stock increased by 3 per cent, it was outpaced by population growth at 7 per cent. Mirroring this limited supply, Daft.ie data shows that the stock of second-hand properties available for sale and rent has decreased since 2012. The stock of second-hand properties for sale has declined since its peak between 2009 and 2011, reaching a trough in 2017, reflecting some recovery since then. In parallel, the stock of properties available to rent has also decreased sharply. Within the existing stock, there is inadequate supply of appropriate to match the demand triggered by an influx of young renters into urban areas and increased wages. Of the total housing stock, detached houses comprise 42 per cent, while apartments accounted for only 12 per cent. At just one-third of Belfast’s population density, Eurostat figures indicated that Dublin’s population density is significantly lower than in other European capitals. As illustrated by GeoDirectory data, in Q2 2019, vacancy rates in Ireland ranged from 1.2 per cent in Dublin to 15.2 per cent in Leitrim, with an average rate of 4.8 per cent. While reutilisation of longterm vacant properties in counties Cork and Galway may help alleviate supply constraints, the same would not translate in areas with acute housing demand.

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• additional costs associated with the delivery of housing, including taxes, levies, fees, finance and marketing, land price inflation and construction margins; and

Credit: Fasih Chandio

Demand Tedin and Faubert suggest that several macroeconomic factors have combined to accelerate housing demand. Firstly, a strong labour market has facilitated increases in population, including net inward migration. Between 2016 and 2018, average annual population growth doubled to 1.2 per cent when compared with 0.6 per cent between 2009 and 2015. Secondly, average household size has declined amid an ageing population and increasing net inward migration. In 2016, the average household size in Ireland was 2.7, dropping to 2.6 in 2018. Thirdly, the strong labour market performance and dynamic earnings have sustained household disposable income. Contributing to the economic recovery, substantial employment by multinationals has stimulated an upward trajectory in rents and house prices. In total, multinational enterprises (MNEs) comprise 16.8 per cent of employment in Ireland, with close to 40 per cent of these jobs located in Dublin. Research produced by Kerri Agnew and Ronan Lyons on The impact of employment on housing prices estimates that for every 1,000 additional MNE-linked jobs created, monthly rents increased by between 0.5 and 1 per cent, while residential properties in close proximity increase by 2 per cent. This upward pressure on rent and prices is most evident among high-skilled workers.

Improving affordability The economic brief outlines several policy options, incorporating both supply and demand, that may increase housing affordability in Ireland. These include: • a more centralised application of vacant site tax by local authorities;

• reform of property tax through revision of house price valuations, with special arrangement for lowincome owners; • a utilisation of publicly owned land capacity to provide for social and affordable housing; • an adequate and timely supply of serviced land; • attraction of foreign skilled construction labour to increase productivity and reduce constructions costs; • reform of rent legislation to reduce the complexity and restrictiveness and increase the number of buy-to-let properties coming onto the market; • temporary use of housing subsidies; and • medium-term use of macroprudential rules to arrest house price inflation and realign house prices and income.

Conclusion Concluding, Tedin and Faubert reemphasise that housing affordability has worsened for both tenants and home buyers as a result of increasing property prices, largely determined by inadequate housing supply. Recognising the emergency housing legislation enacted to mitigate the impact of Covid-19, they suggest that there could be a temporary decline in rental prices and improved affordability for lower-income households. However, given the prevailing supply constraints, it seems more likely that the Covid crisis and the associated reduction in house completions will exacerbate the affordability challenge, the implications of which include reduced economic competitiveness and the reduced ability to attract skilled workers.

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Approved Housing Bodies are key to growth of social housing sector in Ireland Ireland’s housing magazine

Across Europe, social housing is being delivered and operated in a highly regulatory environment. Although smaller in tenure than homeownership, social housing is regarded as a professional riskadjusted asset class that attracts private ESG investors, write Ad Hereijgers, Business Development Director and Austen Reid, United Kingdom Director of RITTERWALD Consulting. Ad Hereijgers, Business Development Director.

For post Covid economic prosperity of urban areas such as Dublin and Cork, the rental market becomes ever more important in supporting young singles and couples that prefer living in an urban environment where more employment is to be found. To spur new construction, approved housing bodies (AHBs) should be incentivised by government to become the housing providers of choice.

AHBs at par with LHA in new construction

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Over the last couple of years, we have been following Ireland’s social housing sector from a distance. We have noticed promising news: Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) have gained traction and with over 4,000 homes built are about to pass Local Housing Authorities (LHAs) in annual housing construction. Moreover, the annual growth of AHBs housing stock is in double digits while LHAs seem to consolidate. Furthermore, the statutorily regulatory authority has been put into effect, a condition for growing into a maturing market position. In our view, LHAs cannot sustain viable business models for rental housing. They rely too heavily on capital granted by national government, paying the full cost of building or buying homes upfront in a lump sum, whereas AHBs (in post reclassification situation) spread the 70

costs over longer periods of time with debt finance. Moreover, because LHAs also own and operate the oldest housing stock, they will need increased grant funding for delivering the decarbonisation agenda.

AHBs: From start up to scale up to grown up Social housing only accounts for 9 per cent of Ireland’s housing stock of a little more than two million homes. The total stock of AHBs registers circa 38,000 and remains still smaller than LHAs stock (139,000), let alone the private rental sector stock (325,000). AHBs are relatively young in housing body terms, and over half of their homes are owned and managed by six AHBs working together in the Housing Alliance: Circle Voluntary Housing Association, Clúid Housing, Co-operative Housing Ireland, Oaklee Housing, Respond and Tuath Housing. The Housing Alliance primarily operates in urban markets and joins forces on strategic issues in promoting AHBs becoming mainstream in delivering social housing. When talking growth, one quickly starts thinking about mergers and acquisitions (M&A). This is going to happen now the regulator published an advice note on mergers. However, M&A is not the first

option we would consider: for a successful M&A, one needs more than projected growth in numbers. Because localism and community services are rooted in the DNA of AHBs, one should start with considering organic growth models from the perspective of consolidation. After that, common M&A considerations come into play in terms of economies of scales and serving regional markets. The number of AHBs (over 300) and their variety in scale will be a challenge though: it is not only about matching numbers, but also about bridging cultural biases among housing professionals and volunteers. To accommodate AHBs to grow, one can identify at least two pathways to start with. Firstly, new development, supported by government to give access to publicly owned land. Secondly, stock transfers from LHAs. Other countries, such as the UK and the Netherlands have done this successfully in the past. Not only does it take housing off the Exchequer account, but it also provides the council tenants with dedicated services from social housing professionals. And yes, some local councillors are not going to like this, but they must acknowledge that, in the long run, tenants of social housing are better off under the services of AHBs. In this way, public sector resources can be directed to other services where a mixed


funding model is less viable (such as public transport, public space, public education, and health care).

Ireland’s housing magazine

From markets with a longer tradition and permanent shortage of social housing, we have learned that professional notfor-profit housing providers are most sustainable in their business models. Therefore, we suggest AHBs could, and preferably should, grow steadily. Selected current drivers could support the roadmap to growth and create more awareness among stakeholders in the social housing sector: the Irish should be proud of the accomplishments of its AHBs and cherish its future.

Accommodate growth of AHBs Across Europe, providing and sustaining high-quality housing at affordable cost with security of tenure needs capacity, regulation, and capital. These are the levers for viable business models. Capacities: Professional skills are needed for asset and property management as well as development, finance, and social services. In market regions, some of these skills can be shared among the AHBs. A good example of such a dedicated platform is Dublin-based Housing Alliance. Regulation: A mature social housing sector does flourish in a regulatory environment. Having the Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA) into effect since 1 February is key. The AHBRA will have the responsibility of overseeing the effective governance, financial management and performance of AHBs in accordance with the legal framework set out in the Housing Act 2019. The AHBRA will safeguard public and private investment in the AHB sector and ensure that assets are managed sustainably.

ESG Accreditation RITTERWALD has developed and succesfully issued two ESG accreditation tools, Certified Sustainable

Certified Sustainable Housing Label: developed to find ESG investors in the debt capital markets. We assess an AHB against a comprehensive catalogue of more than 40 environmental, social and governance criteria. A second party opinion (SPO) then reviews our evaluation. If successful, the AHB may then use the label to present itself as a certified sustainable housing company. An annual review is undertaken to ensure the company keeps complying with the implementation and fulfilment of the goals set out at the time the certificate was awarded.

criteria. Alternatively, an AHB may want to report its ESG credentials at a corporate level, e.g. as part of its stakeholder management: tenant bodies, local authorities, bond aggregator and, in the future, AHBRA.

Berlin | Frankfurt | London | Amsterdam E: ad.hereijgers@ritterwald.nl austen.reid@ritterwald.co.uk W: www.ritterwald.eu www.sustainable-housing.eu

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Access to debt capital: Debt capital enables growth, both in new development and acquisitions. Sufficient debt capital capacity also enables AHBs to deliver the decarbonisation agenda. Debt capital can be leveraged against grant funding and operating margins. To an increasing extent, institutional investors (especially pension funds) look to ESG credentials of AHBs to align their investments with their mandates.

Housing Label and Sustainable Housing Asessment, to support AHBs in showing and enhancing their corporate sustainability performance, expanding and diversifying their lender base and developing and improving ESG reporting to their stakeholders.

Sustainable Housing Assessment: Primarily developed as an ESG assessment tool supporting AHBs that raise capital via bank loans or private placements. It does assess 10 core ESG 71


Ireland’s housing magazine

Irish local authority housing “inadequate” says Council of Europe A report by the Council of Europe has found local authority housing standards in Ireland to be “inadequate” and stated that the State’s treatment of local authority tenants and Travellers is violation of their rights. The report, compiled by the Council of Europe’s European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), found that the State has continually violated the human rights of both Travellers and local authority housing tenants by providing inadequate housing that is damp and mould- and rat-infested. The ECSR states in the report published in March 2021 that “local authority housing tenants continue to live with inadequate housing” and many Traveller sites “are in poor condition, lack maintenance and are badly located”.

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The Council of Europe has previously ruled that Ireland was in violation of Article 16 of the European Social Charter, doing so in 2015 with regard to the State’s treatment of Travellers and again in 2017 due to the violations of rights of local authority tenants. The March 2021 report was published in the context of the Council’s monitoring of Ireland’s progress towards compliance with the charter, which the State first ratified in 1964, later ratifying a revised version in 2000.

Article 16 of the European Social Charter states that “the family as a fundamental unit of society has the right to appropriate social, legal and economic protection to ensure its full development”, which includes the “provision of family housing”. In both 2015 and 2017, the State was found to be in violation of this right and in both cases, the ECSR has found that Ireland “has still not been brought into conformity” with the charter. Rulings from the ECSR are seen as legally binding on the states concerned,


although they are not justiciable in domestic courts.

The report makes note of how the Irish Government has embarked on a number of initiatives such as the National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee (NTACC), the statutory body appointed to advise the minister in relation to any matter concerning accommodation for Travellers, which was founded in 2020 under the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998. An Expert Group on Traveller Accommodation was established in September 2018 to make recommendations that will improve the delivery of Traveller accommodation nationally. The Expert Group returned its 32 recommendations in July 2019. Figures provided to Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD showed that more than €4 million of funding allocated to Traveller accommodation had gone unspent in 2019. €8.6 million of the fund was spent in 2019, with local authorities not applying for any funding, eight local authorities overspending their allocations and 10 local authorities not spending anything. A total of 117 families were said to be living roadside in the 10 local authority areas where no money was spent on Traveller accommodation. Department data showed there are more than 1,000 Traveller families living in “unsafe, insecure, or overcrowded conditions” in 2019. In 2018, a total of 591 families were on unauthorised sites, typically on roadsides, and usually

Ireland’s housing magazine

The absence of a national monitoring system for the quality and condition of local authority housing was one of the key failures highlighted by the progress report, which also stated that the legal protections for the right to housing for families in Ireland is inadequate. The State’s adoption of a number of measures in a bid to conform to the 2017 progress report was welcomed within the report, but it still found that Ireland was not providing adequate housing for a significant number of families. The efforts made by the State toward the development of more social housing and regeneration projects, as seen in plans such as Rebuilding Ireland and the National Development Plan, were also acknowledged by the report. A halting site in Finglas, County Dublin.

without running water, toilets, or secure electricity. A further 927 were sharing accommodation with other families. In 2020, the entire Traveller accommodation budget, some €14.5 million, was drawn down for the first time since 2014, ending with a €500,000 overspend, bringing the total spend to €15 million. Since the turn of the century, some €69 million earmarked for Traveller accommodation has gone unspent. One-in-four Traveller households consist of more than six people, as compared with a one-in-20 rate for the general population. Traveller advocacy groups have long argued that overcrowded accommodation and a lack of housing is forcing Travellers to move into caravans, which puts them at risk of eviction notices. Eviction notices can have a significant impact on the mental health of families and children, who are already in a vulnerable position, the report says. “Legal aid does not extend to eviction proceedings, which can have a disproportionate impact on Travellers. Furthermore, evictions can often take place in the evening, which means that Travellers cannot access legal advice in a timely manner,” it states. On the issue of local authority housing, the ECSR writes that while steps have been taken towards the improvement of

housing conditions, including through increased retrofitting and regeneration schemes, “substantial limitations” remain to the provision of “adequate accommodation to a large number of families who continue living in substandard local authority housing”. The report makes specific mention of the submission from Community Action Network, an NGO which supported tenants in Dublin, Cork, and Limerick to take their case to the ECSR, which said responsibility for adequate social housing could not be laid solely at the door of local authorities, and that the State must also play a role. “It is for the State to undertake general supervision at national level to ensure in a consistent manner that all local authority dwellings across Ireland are of adequate quality,” the report states. “The legal framework for the right to housing for families in Ireland is insufficient, local authority housing tenants continue to live with inadequate housing standards and there are no national statistics on the conditions of local authority housing stock.” The ECSR’s observations were published alongside those for seven other EU states. The reports stated that the Article 16 rights of Travellers, Roma or Sinti communities were found to be violated in every EU state except for Finland.

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Building and sustaining good partnerships is key to housing provision huge game changer for the organisation, with 144 new houses and apartments on one site. It brought us into a new stratosphere in dealing with larger developers, and it opened our eyes to working on larger schemes as opposed to multiple smaller schemes. We worked with Gerry McGreevy Construction on this estate. They have developed other schemes for us since this project, such as Weavers Wood in Clonsilla and are currently developing Ballygall Road West in Finglas.

Sandra Farmer, a member of the Dublin West Co-operative with Kieron Brennan, CEO, Co-operative Housing Ireland at the launch of Weavers Wood, Clonsilla, Dublin 15.

Padraic Clancy, Head of New Business with Co-operative Housing Ireland (CHI), explains how taking on larger projects has enabled the organisation to consolidate its workload by keeping delivery numbers high but reducing the number of sites.

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The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on every sector in Ireland. Housing has been no different, Padraic Clancy, Head of New especially Business, Co-operative considering the Housing Ireland demands that pre-existed the outbreak of Covid-19. Increasing supply to meet housing needs, the provision of affordable 74

housing solutions for those most in need, and the sustainability of quality housing stock into the future will require a dedicated and steady contribution from approved housing bodies (AHBs). Co-operative Housing Ireland has significantly increased its output to respond to these needs and has investigated new ways of working to facilitate larger contributions to housing stock. One such larger project was Hazelwood Rise, Rathnew, County Wicklow. Speaking about the development, Clancy says: “Hazelwood Rise was a

“From a management point of view, Hazelwood Rise is all on the one site, which simplifies things for us. The houses have a great design, and the apartments are excellent quality with high ceilings. Everything is bright and airy, and all the buildings are A-rated with air-to-water heat pumps. That makes them more affordable for our members to live in. Overall, they are beautiful homes on the edge of Wicklow with quick access to the motorway to travel to Dublin.” In tandem with the delivery of houses, the organisation continues to highlight solutions to issues that impact the sector. At the centre of the housing crisis, Clancy emphasises, are the people who need secure housing, many of whom have been waiting for years to turn the key in a place they can call home. “Brookhill in Carrigaline, County Cork was a fantastic achievement for CHI. We showcased the work that we do, the people that it impacts and the importance of quality housing. It’s an estate of 69 turnkey homes. Turnkey homes are essential to addressing the housing crisis as they allow for: the risks associated with building to be pushed back on to the developer; a greater housing tenure mix; social housing to be built on private land; and accelerated house building. “We provided homes to families there before Christmas 2020 and were


delighted to have Taoiseach Micheál Martin there to open the estate. It was wonderful to meet with members, hear their stories and see their housing journeys featured on television and radio. These types of conversations give the wider public an insight into how safe secure tenancy really does change lives.

Clancy believes that a key factor to successful housing provision is identifying and addressing the needs in a particular area. “Location, location, location. It really is all about the suitability of the area and responding to the housing need. There are many considerations to make when embarking on a new scheme. You must look at the housing situation as it stands in an area and react to it. You also need to look at what is coming on board, the availability of sites, and most importantly the proximity of services that our members will need. Are there schools in the area, amenities for young families, shops, and medical centres? The place needs to be liveable. There really is no point in developing a scheme in the middle of nowhere where people will be isolated and have little access to services or other supports,” he says.

“Second, is the Department of Housing itself, followed by the Housing Finance Agency [HFA] and pillar banks. The HFA will always be our most important funder but going forward we need to diversify our funding opportunities if we are to

An aerial shot of Baunacloka Heights, 71 new homes in Limerick.

Bauncloka Heights, Limerick, a mix of three bed houses and two bed apartments all with a minimum BER A3 rating.

meet our targets. We have done great work so far with domestic pillar banks.” Concluding, Clancy indicates: “It is also highly important to us that we try to collaborate with good quality developers. We have a good working relationship with many developers that has extended beyond working on our initial projects with them. Willow View, Castlebridge, County Wexford is a good example of that. It was developer Darragh Ryan’s first attempt at a CHI project, and we are now undertaking our third project with him.

they will deliver and there is already a working relationship there. Developers we have worked with know our professionalism and what our expectations are, and we can problem

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Building and sustaining positive and effective partnerships has been key to securing CHI’s pipeline for the next number of years. The organisation has committed to an ambitious four-year plan to double its housing stock. Discussing the plan, Clancy remarks: “Without collaboration with local authorities, CHI would not be able to take its first step in delivering houses and set such ambitious targets. We have a good relationship with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the housing departments within the local authorities. The local authorities really are the first wrung on the ladder for us when it comes to increasing our stock.

Ireland’s housing magazine

“The most important thing for CHI is that we have very happy residents. We interviewed a family that moved in and the father said that his children thanked them for moving into the house. Many families that moved in would not have experienced that security of tenure before, or the quality of those houses. In addition to that, they have been housed within the cooperative ethos, which I feel is our added value, because of the level of involvement that our members have,” the CHI Head of New Business asserts.

solve together as issues present themselves because we have done it all before on another project. Good partnerships make it easier for both the developer and the AHB.”

For more information: T: 01 661 2877 E: admin@cooperativehousing.ie

“Continuing to develop new projects with a trusted developer is invaluable to us, because we know the high quality that

W: www.cooperativehousing.ie Twitter: @coophousingie 75


Ireland’s housing magazine

International homelessness

The last time a global survey of homelessness was attempted, the UN estimated that there were over 100 million homeless people worldwide in 2005. The non-profit Habitat for Humanity stated in 2015 that as many as 1.6 billion people worldwide lack adequate housing. It can be extremely difficult to properly assess the number of homeless people worldwide, not least due to the divergent definitions of “homelessness” in differing political jurisdictions. This could perhaps be easiest to understand in an Irish context by remembering the claim of then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the lead up to the 2020 general election that there were 20,000 homeless people in Northern Ireland, as compared to the circa 10,000 homeless in the Republic of Ireland at the time. The island of Ireland is 84,421km2 in total land mass, with the Republic accounting for 70,273km2 and the North the remaining 14,148km2; for the latter to have double the amount of homeless people would be extraordinary. Yet the

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fact that it could even be claimed due to the North collecting data of households who present as homeless while the Republic collects data of those who access emergency accommodation, serves a microcosm of the challenge of understanding global homelessness. With no consistent measure on an island as small as Ireland, the world at large remains a monumental challenge. A Yale University study last updated in 2020 estimates there to be no less than 150 million homeless people in the world, making up 2 per cent of the total world population. The study repeats Habitat for Humanity’s estimation that 1.6 billion people lack adequate housing. Increasing urbanisation around the world is, in part, responsible for making

homelessness more visible today than it has ever been: “In 1950, for example, 70 per cent of the world’s population of 2.5 billion was spread out across rural areas. Housing problems, far removed from urban centres, were largely unnoticed. Today, most of the world’s population of 7.6 billion, 55 per cent, is concentrated in urban centres, in close proximity to the politically influential and economically well-to-do.” Definitions of homelessness around the world range from “simply the absence of adequate living quarters or rough sleeping to include the lack of a permanent residence that provides roots, security, identity and emotional wellbeing”. The UN, the Yale report says, “has recognised that definitions,


methodologies and strategies vary across countries because homelessness is essentially culturally defined based on concepts such as adequate housing, minimum community housing standard or security of tenure”.

A 2020 OECD report found that, among other indicators, some OECD countries reported a rise in youth homelessness, with Ireland suffering the largest increase, an 82 per cent jump from 2014 to 2018. Denmark experienced a 43 per cent increase between 2011 and 2017 but has since seen the rate decrease. Youth homelessness grew by 20 per cent in Australia between 2011 and 2016 and by 23 per cent in New Zealand between 2006 and 2013. Ireland was the only one of these countries where youth homelessness grew at a rate that wasn’t greater than overall homelessness. On the other hand, youth homelessness in Canada dropped by 17 per cent between 2011 and 2016, in Finland by 25 per cent between 2009 and 2018, and England by 20 per cent between 2010 and 2017. Homelessness among families with children has risen, “in some cases, significantly” across the OECD. This measure almost quadrupled in Ireland between 2014 and 2018, from 407 to over 1,600 households, while family homelessness in New Zealand increased by 44 per cent between 2006 and 2013, totalling nearly 21,800 individuals in 2013. Family homelessness in England increased by 42 per cent between 2010 and 2017, meaning over 44,000 households were homeless in 2017. In the United States, families with children represented one-third of the homeless population in 2018, over 180,000 people in more than 56,300 families. Some individual states within the United States also saw significant rises in family homelessness: between 2007 and 2018, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., experienced increases in family

homelessness of more than 90 per cent, whilst New York saw a rise of 51 per cent over that period. By contrast, family homelessness has declined in Denmark and Finland in recent years.

Homelessness increases in the OECD • The biggest increases in homelessness rates in the OECD were recorded in Iceland and Ireland, although it is noted that the homelessness rate remained at less than 0.15 per cent of the population in each country. Homelessness rose by 168 per cent in Iceland between 2009 and 2017, totalling 349 homeless people in 2017. Ireland’s homeless population more than doubled between 2014 and 2017, from less than 3,000 people to over 6,000 people. • There were more “moderate” increases recorded in the homelessness rates of countries such as Latvia (60 per cent increase between 2010 and 2017), France (roughly 50 per cent between 2001 and 2012), England (32 per cent between 2010 and 2017), the Netherlands (28 per cent between 2010 and 2016) and New Zealand (14 per cent between 2006 and 2013). • “Small” increases (defined as less than 6 per cent) occurred in Australia (5 per cent between 2011 and 2016) and Chile (4 per cent between 2011 and 2019).

Ireland’s housing magazine

There is also the issue of some countries simply fudging their stats, as the Yale report notes: “In Moscow, for example, officials report that the homeless number around 10,000, while non-government organisations claim that as many as 100,000 live on the streets. Also, in the Philippines capital of Manila, reported to have the largest homeless population of any city in the world, estimates vary from several million to tens of thousands.”

• More nuanced trends can be observed in countries that collect homelessness data on an annual basis. For instance, following a 15 per cent overall decline in homelessness between 2007 and 2018, homelessness increased slightly in absolute terms (by 0.3 per cent) in the United States between 2017 and 2018. In Scotland, the homeless rate increased by around 2 per cent between 2017 and 2018, after experiencing a gradual annual decline since 2007.

Homelessness decreases in the OECD • Norway and Finland recorded the biggest drops in the homelessness rate during the period covered by the OECD report: Norway’s rate fell by 40 per cent between 2012 and 2016, while Finland’s fell by 39 per cent between 2010 and 2018. • More “moderate” decreases in the homelessness rate were recorded in Canada (14 per cent between 2010 and 2016), Austria (12 per cent between 2013 and 2017) and Sweden (7 per cent between 2013 and 2017). • Poland recorded a “very slight” drop in the homelessness rate between 2013 and 2019. Homelessness in Denmark declined slightly between 2017 and 2019, from 0.12 per cent of the population to 0.11 per cent, after increasing since 2011.

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Energy efficient homes: Bringing customers on the journey to net zero Ireland’s housing magazine

To achieve this, we are increasing our capability to service customers in-home needs via our service engineer network. We have rolled out home energy upgrade services and smart home technologies to reduce consumption (and in turn, heat emissions), partnered with car manufacturers to support the EV rollout and associated charging networks to reduce transport emissions. We have started upskilling our dedicated boiler service engineers on newer low carbon heating technologies. Having recently digitalised boiler servicing and repair we believe that this is a key channel for growth, creating a marketplace for home services and educating customers on their path to net zero.

Bord Gáis Energy is developing and delivering solutions which enable customers to reduce carbon emissions through controlling and optimising the energy they use, improving energy efficiency, accessing cleaner energy and fuel switching. Our ambition is to empower our customers to be net zero by 2050. Colin Bebbington, Retail Director at Bord Gáis Energy writes.

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At Bord Gáis Energy, our ambition is to grow services within the home, delivering full end-to-end solutions for customers, bringing them on the journey to net zero with us. We want to be the leaders in this space, delivering energy services solutions in over 500,000 homes in Ireland beyond 2030. The journey to net zero will begin with the National Home Retrofit Scheme. This pilot scheme was established to provide a vehicle to upgrade the energy efficiency of existing housing stock and achieve the Government’s Climate Action Plan home energy retrofit targets.

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The scheme is designed to encourage the development of one-stop shops, engaging groups of private households, approved housing bodies and local authorities who aim to deliver energy efficiency upgrades. Bord Gáis Energy intends to be the foremost provider of these sustainable solutions in homes and businesses across Ireland, providing advice, products and technology that help customers transition to net zero in the most economic and expeditious way possible.

Through home energy upgrade and retrofit services, we, at Bord Gáis Energy, aim to reduce the carbon footprint of each customer by over 80 per cent. An average three-bed semidetached home with an E1 rating and using gas as the main heating source currently outputs 6.7 tonnes of CO2 per annum. Bord Gáis Energy services will target to bring a customer’s home to a minimum B2 rating, reducing the carbon footprint by 5.5 tonnes per annum to 1.2 tonnes.

Achieving net zero heating Simultaneously, it is important that we remain cognisant of how net zero heating can be achieved. Ireland has a hugely diverse housing stock. Not everyone can afford the cost of acquiring A1 insulation or a heat pump, and, equally, not all homes will be energy efficient enough for heat pumps to be able to keep them warm. We need to maintain our options as we transition, mindful that we also have a relatively new gas network that should be deployed to best effect. It will be important to explore alternative


technologies including hybrid heat pumps and green gas, as well as hydrogen. We also need to acknowledge the role that natural gas will play as a transition fuel for decades to come. A recent study of the UK market estimated, on a purely economic basis, that even in 2050 a proportion of homes would choose or need to maintain natural gas boilers as their primary heat source.

• educating consumers on the benefits; • providing innovative product solutions; and • centrally funded incentives to support change.

Education Over the past number of years, Bord Gáis Energy has been educating its customers on how to use energy more sustainably. We are now talking to our customers about a full range of retrofit services including solar PV, insulation, glazing, EV charger installation, heat pumps as well as newly designed smart energy tariffs that help customers use energy at optimal times to suit their own individual needs. The key here is for customers to understand the benefits and be interested in pursuing alternatives every time they seek to incrementally improve their home; thereby feeling part of the wider societal importance of transition and supportive of the cost to achieve.

Innovative products

For instance, the Hive smart thermostat can save each home up to 0.5 tonnes of carbon annually with minimal impact. Turning thermostats down by just 1°C can reduce annual space heating energy consumption by 10 per cent, with an equivalent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

In transitioning to a low-carbon heating option, it is vital that consumers understand the benefits for themselves as individuals and for society. But in practice, consumers will need financial incentives in the form of progressively funded grants to swap out their oil heating systems and improve the energy efficiency of their homes. To put it simply, if we want consumers to stop buying boilers and swap to a costlier but lower-carbon alternative, the additional capital cost required needs to be funded by an incentive scheme. Bord Gáis Energy has recently launched a range of new green tariffs that combine green electricity with energy reduction through smart products. These plans include an innovative dual fuel proposition with 100 per cent green electricity and 10 per cent renewable gas. The plans also include free Hive Active Heating and an Amazon Echo Dot to allow customers manage energy more efficiently.

Opportunity We know an opportunity exists to achieve competitive advantage in playing our part in reducing the overall carbon footprint of Irish consumers.

Bord Gáis Energy wants to take the lead in helping customers understand what products are best for them to reduce their individual carbon footprints. Our core values in developing a green proposition at Bord Gáis Energy and those which will guide us on our roll-out of these tariffs are: • meeting customer needs and expectations; and • delivering real environmental impact, helping our customers live more sustainably whilst standing up to scrutiny and delivering measurable carbon reductions. In many ways, the next five years are only the beginning. It will be a learning curve and we at Bord Gáis Energy are keen to play our part, working with partners to package home energy upgrade and retrofit solutions, exploring the installation of alternative technologies in our customers’ homes, providing our customers with BER advice, expanding our Hive Active Heating technology, and adapting the platform to deliver new insights to customers.

For further information visit bordgaisenergy.ie

PROFILE

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Increasingly, the products in our Hive Active Heating range are providing more insight to customers around energy usage. Coupled with the optimisation opportunity that comes from the current rollout of the National Smart Metering Programme (NSMP), this will only enhance customers awareness of their energy usage and create more sustainable homes today.

Financial incentive

Ireland’s housing magazine

Consequently, achieving a net zero future will require the right combination of:

Colin Bebbington, Retail Director Colin is accountable for retail strategy, sales and marketing, category performance, and energy services. He joined Bord Gáis Energy in 2012 in the role of Residential Category Controller with responsibility of delivering the segment P&L. Colin has a wealth of experience in the telecommunications and energy sectors, including senior roles at Vodafone and Meteor. Colin holds a master’s in strategic management from University College Dublin and is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin.

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Covid-19 and construction Ireland’s housing magazine

With the return of all construction in early May 2021, the industry will be hoping that it has put the worst of work stoppages behind it as it looks to meet adjusted targets for the year. Tuesday 4 May 2021 marked the return of all construction amidst the gradual lifting of restrictions, with construction of residential properties and childcare facilities having returned on 12 April. Non-essential construction sites were closed on 8 January as Ireland entered a strict post-Christmas level five lockdown. Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien TD had said at the time of the January lockdown that he expected the “vast majority” of the 200,000 people in the construction sector to be “staying at home” as a result of the level five lockdown, but Department of Social Protection data in mid-January showed just 56,217 people from the sector availing of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, well below the May 2020 peak when over 70,000 construction workers were availing of the PUP. Based on a survey of its members working in construction, the Unite trade union estimated that “about 30 per cent” of building sites remained open at the time.

Construction targets The Central Bank estimates that up to 34,000 homes will need to be built per year every year of the 2020s in order to satisfy housing demand, the ESRI has estimated a slightly lower 33,000; these targets were neither enshrined as official by the Government, nor were they being met pre-pandemic. While the initial 2020 targets for new build completions in Ireland were understandably missed given the extensive shutdown of construction sites in the first lockdown of 2020, Central Statistics Office figures (CSO) show that completions for the year were down just 1.9 per cent. Despite Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s revised estimation that 18,000 homes would be built in 2020, 20,676 new dwellings were built in 2020, a slight fall of 411 from the 21,087 built in 2019. A surge in construction activity in the final quarter of the year recovered the figures to a comparable pre-pandemic level. 7,400 houses were completed in the fourth quarter of 2020, a 15.9 per cent rise on the 2019 level.

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Completions of apartments rose 45.6 per cent year-on-year to 1,724, but there were decreases in both single (down 2.6 per cent) and scheme dwellings from 2019. However, both single and scheme completions rose in Q4, at rates of 8.5 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

7,827 social homes were delivered in 2020, including 5,073 new builds, according to the Government’s Social Housing Statistics 2020. Commenting on the figures, Minister O’Brien said: “At the end of 2020 housing delivery had reached over 70 per cent of the original target, clearly demonstrating the impact Covid-19 and the subsequent shutdown in construction has had in 2020. At the end of June, just 1,478 new social homes had been delivered, including 739 new build homes. This represented 13 per cent of the overall target for 2020. “The second half of the year showed a strong rebound with local authorities working with their delivery partners to deliver almost 7,000 new homes. I want to commend the local authorities, the approved housing bodies and the construction industry for putting in place effective protocols to mitigate against Covid, to allow for increased output over the final six months of the year.” The Taoiseach has targeted the building of 25,000 homes in 2021, although how the industry responds to this target given its partial shutdown for the first four months of the year remains to be seen. Of the 25,000 targeted homes in 2021, 12,750 will be social homes, with 9,500 of those set to be new builds by housing agencies and local authorities. The Irish Home Builders Association had originally forecast the building of 28,000 homes in 2021 but revised this to 24,000 before the effect of the 2021 lockdown was taken into account.

Ireland’s housing magazine

Of all completions in 2020, 56.7 per cent were part of a scheme, 23.9 per cent were single and 19.4 per cent were apartments. The most completions at a regional level in quarter four of 2020 were in Dublin, where there were 2,479 dwellings completed. There were 6,081 completions in Dublin over the whole of 2020. The mid-east region had the next highest level of completions, with 1,555 dwellings completed in Q4 and 4,839 in the whole of 2020. In Q4 2020, more than three-quarters of all apartments completed were in Dublin, the mid-east accounted for 29.3 per cent of the total scheme dwellings and the western region had the highest number of single dwelling completions.

Just weeks into the first lockdown of 2021, O’Brien stated that every week of the lockdown would mean that between 700 and 800 houses would not be built. The Minister told a parliamentary party meeting that the nine-week period without construction would mean that the housing targets would be missed by between 6,500 and 7,000 homes. Martin had noted upon announcement of the 25,000 houses target that this was “challenging”, but both he and O’Brien have expressed the hope that the €3.3 billion housing budget for the year will allow some room for quicker manoeuvres in the case of targets being missed. A study conducted by EY DKM on behalf of the Construction Industry Federation stated that housing completions would fall to 16,000 for the year 2021 due to the lockdown.

Construction industry The same study, published in March 2021, also estimated a fall in value of €3 billion in 2021, following on from a fall of €2 billion in 2020. The report also claimed that, along with O’Brien’s estimate of between 700 and 800 houses not being built with every week of shutdown, the construction industry lost €427 million in output and €156 million in lost profit and wages per week of the shutdown. The report also warned that despite the relative recovery of new build numbers in the second half of 2020, the level of new housing commencements declined by 23.5 per cent in the first nine months of 2020 to 17,615 on the same period in 2019. This, it is warned, will not properly affect supply forecasts until 2021 and 2022, with CIF stating it “will have serious repercussions for the supply pipeline in 2021 and 2022”.

6 Credit: William Murphy


Ireland’s housing magazine

Investing in social housing: Protecting yield and managing risk

An increasingly diverse range of large-scale investors have been moving into Irish social housing at an accelerating pace over the past 24–36 months. It’s perceived to be “a hot space” because of the potential to achieve what are deemed by the market to be attractive long-term State-backed yields/returns for investors in a range of 3 per cent to 5 per cent, write Thomas O’Malley and Angelyn Rowan of Philip Lee.

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To make it work these investors want to build scale and quickly. This has led to a focus on newly built schemes. In tandem, investors are seeking to build portfolios by acquiring and refurbishing existing stock to a standard acceptable to local authorities and meeting legislative standards under the Housing Acts. Notwithstanding the recent concerns about funds acquiring entire developments, thus limiting the supply of housing for first time buyers and others, the investment funds are delivering social housing at a pace that the State cannot match. Investors are attracted by the Irish Government’s social housing leasing

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scheme (“leasing scheme”) because of the strength of the lessee covenant (i.e., local authorities in their capacity as housing authorities), which are supported through Government central funding through schemes that are dedicated to social housing, such as the Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme (SHCEP). In effect the leasing scheme is a 25-year commitment, supported by the Irish Government, to rent social housing. The rent is reviewed every three years and reviews are linked to the Harmonised Index of the Consumer Price Index, which is anticipated to protect the initial yield for the duration of the term.

There are a number of leasing models within the leasing scheme: Standard lease: a landlord remains responsible for the maintenance of the roof and structure of the property with the tenant (local authority) being responsible for the internal maintenance/garden and the management of the occupiers with whom it enters into subleases. In a managed scheme, the repair obligation is assumed by the owner’s management company through collection of service charges. The standard lease will attract a rent level of circa 80/85 per cent of market rents. This model is also used for the development of an entire scheme


of units. The entire scheme is leased under the leasing scheme, with the landlord assuming responsibility for the maintenance and cleaning of the external and internal common areas, which is akin to the obligations of an owner’s management company under the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011.

Investment in the leasing scheme is an asset class and investors are assessing various risks and means to minimise any risk to yields and thus protect the yield and their investment.

Identifying the key risks The risks associated with property as an asset/investment class are well established and apply to the leasing scheme and include: Acquisition: Acquiring a property is generally a straightforward process with lawyers retained to examine title and ensure that a good and marketable title is obtained or that there is clear path to remedying any deficiencies that emerge in the course of due diligence. The due diligence extends to planning and the capacity to implement permitted planning permissions in the case of undeveloped sites.

Asset management: Given the repair obligations in the leases, it’s key that investors have a robust asset management agreement in place with reputable suppliers. This will also be important in protecting value on a portfolio sale and in securing consent to an assignment.

Concerns have been expressed by debt funders in relation to the impact of a receiver appointment as a possible termination event, but it is expected any concerns on this will be addressed by an upcoming amendment to the template lease which will remove any doubts on this front so long as the receiver fulfils the landlord’s obligation. Construction: In the case of newly built schemes the yield is predicated on the investor procuring a turn-key product from a contractor at a fixed price that the local authority will accept once completed. Robust construction contract documentation is essential to protect the investor from price variations and delay that would increase the delivery cost and thus impair yields. It is also essential that the documentation is back-to-back with the AFL requirements and that practical completion is linked to the property meeting the local authority’s requirements. Choosing the right contractor and design team members with the requisite experience and engaging an experienced project monitor to ensure delivery on time and within budget are key factors. Well designed and constructed housing will also be less costly to maintain into the future and protect the asset value.

Tax: Consideration and specialist advices should be procured in respect of all tax heads at the point of establishing structures to hold investments under the leasing scheme.

Conclusion Careful consideration and management of the risks linked with property ownership, development, and its ongoing maintenance and repair under the leasing scheme is required by those who want to build scale in the knowledge that they have taken all reasonable steps to protect the yield and their investment into the future. Appointing service providers and advisors who have deep knowledge of the sector is a key element. Those that manage risk and protect yields will thrive in a market that has a large appetite for the State-backed covenant and potential level of returns that are available under the leasing scheme. At the same time the State benefits from increased investment into the social housing sector thereby increasing much-needed housing supply.

Angelyn Rowan E: arowan@philiplee.ie

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Getting an agreement for lease in place: An early risk in the process is the fact that while a local authority will typically confirm by email that it will lease housing units (existing stock or new builds) at an agreed rent there is a time lag in securing a binding contractual commitment (agreement for lease). Investors are typically proceeding to purchase on the understanding that a non-binding commitment will be fulfilled by the local authority entering into an agreement for lease subsequent to the property having been acquired. The fact that local authorities tend as a rule not to renege on their commitments is seen as a mitigating factor.

As this asset class has grown, portfolios of properties under the leasing scheme have been traded in the market and consent to such assignments have been forthcoming. The State are unwilling to cede to requests for unfettered rights of assignment as they want to know who the incoming landlord will be and the template lease sets out criteria that apply, notice of the proposed assignment, tax clearance, and generally that the proposed assignee is not involved in any criminal activity, sale of arms or weapons, or has been shown to be corrupt in its business activities.

should address important issues, such as performance security, the regime for the remedying of defects post-practical completion, the duration of liability (typically 12 years post-practical completion), and the nature of and level of insurances to be maintained in the event of a claim for a latent or inherent defect. The market for professional indemnity insurance (which would normally be kept in place for an extended period post practical completion), is proving incredibly challenging for participants to maintain at a reasonable cost. Investors are increasingly looking at additional options to plug any potential gaps, including latent defects or enhanced structural defects insurance.

Ireland’s housing magazine

Enhanced lease: the landlord assumes wider management and maintenance obligations with graded response times and other obligations in return for a higher rent of circa 95 per cent of market rent.

Assignability of the leases: This has been the focus of much discussion/lobbying as investors want to be assured that there are no insurmountable obstacles to trading portfolios of properties under the leasing scheme. There is no bar to mortgaging/leveraging a portfolio by a landlord and this also applies to development finance where an agreement for lease is in place.

Thomas O’Malley E: tomalley@philiplee.ie T: +353 1 237 3700 W: www.philiplee.ie

Agreeing robust construction contract documentation at the outset is an important means through which the long-term yield can be protected. Construction contract documentation

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Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage work programme and innovation; and

Ireland’s housing magazine

progress on the development of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) set out in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Joint Committee

In April 2021, the Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage agreed its work programme for 2021 and laid it before both houses of the Oireachtas. Dictated by standing orders, following the establishment of the Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage in 2020, the committee has published its draft work programme for the year ahead. With a primary remit to consider bills, estimates and other business referred to it by Dáil Eireann, which relate to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the majority of the work of the Select Committee will relate to a volume of Bills included in the Government’s Autumn 2020 and Spring 2021 legislative programmes. These include:

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Heritage Bill;

Land Development Agency Bill;

Marine Planning and Development Management Bill;

Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill;

Electoral (Reform) Bill;

Emergency Management and Fire and Public Safety Bill;

Heritage Bill;

Housing and Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill;

Local Government (Directly Elected Mayor - Limerick) Bill;

Monuments and Archaeological Heritage Bill;

Tailte Eireann Bill;

Urban Area Committees Bill;

Water Environment (Abstractions) Bill;

Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill;

Electoral (Amendment) Bill;

Housing and Residential Tenancies Bill;

Wildlife (Amendment) Bill; and

Housing (Amendment) Bill.

In addition, the Committee is tasked with consideration of annual estimates for public services within its remit, meaning the Committee will consider the Minister’s spending plans for the forthcoming year and question the Minister on financial allocations and associated output targets. The Committee is not empowered to amend estimates.

The Committee deals with items of business referred to it by one or both houses and can also select business for consideration from areas within its terms of reference. The Joint Committee largely deals with EU business, as well as key policy and governance priorities. In addition to its core business of legislation, for the period January 2021 to December 2021, the Committee should be able to focus on one or two major topics within the remit of the Department, with the aim of producing a well-researched report to both Houses by the end of the year.

Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage of the 33rd Dáil and the 26th Seanad:

Deputies Steven Matthews Chair Green Party

Francis Noel Duffy, Green Party Joe Flaherty, Fianna Fáil

Examination of the annual output statements (AOS) including performance, efficiency, and effectiveness in the use of public monies and value for money (VFM) reviews are another important part of scrutinising government expenditure. Additionally, motions and other matters may be referred to the Select Committee.

Thomas Gould, Sinn Féin

On 30 July, the Dáil passed an order that the work programme of each select committee should include consideration of:

Victor Boyhan, Independent

the State’s response to the Covid19 pandemic;

science, research and development

Emer Higgins, Fine Gael Paul McAuliffe, Fianna Fáil Cian O'Callaghan, Social Democrats Richard O'Donoghue, Independent Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Féin

Senators John Cummins, Fine Gael Mary Fitzpatrick, Fianna Fáil Rebecca Moynihan, Labour Party Mary Seery Kearney, Fine Gael


Credit: Open grid engine

Stricter Airbnb regulation and vacant home tax amongst latest proposals Pent up demand and a greater willingness to holiday closer to home is

Ireland’s housing magazine

likely to see demand for properties, such as those available on Airbnb, soar. One potential outcome is that those landlords who may have previously considered offloading their property, simultaneously increasing housing availability and relieving some of the demand pressure, will now be financially driven to retain such properties and avail of growing tourism demand. In May, O’Brien said his department was close to concluding a piece of work on further regulation of short-term lettings, which will likely enforce the requirement of properties to acquire planning permission to enable advertisements on the Airbnb platform. Previous Minister Murphy introduced regulations which means that individuals

The Housing Minister has discussed fresh plans for enhanced regulation of short-term letting and vacant land and homes. In May 2021, Minister Darragh O’Brien TD told a series of parliamentary party meetings that he plans to introduce further regulations on short-term letting in a bid to increase housing availability. O’Brien is the latest Housing Minister to attempt to get to grips with the popularity of short-term letting platforms like Airbnb, seen as deepening the housing crisis by reducing stock availability and impacting on affordability. However, there are concerns that the Government may miss a window of maximum opportunity by failing to legislate for stricter regulations prior to the lifting of Covid-19 related restrictions, when demand for shortterm letting will once again increase.

renting out a home for more than 90 days or landlords letting out a second property on a short-term basis must apply for planning permission on a new or retention basis. However, criticism has been levelled at enforcement of the regulations, with many properties still being available without permissions.

The pandemic saw an almost total falloff of demand for short-term letting through platforms like Airbnb. The falloff in demand coincided with an increase of availability of properties previously available for short-term letting available for sale on the housing market.

Stricter regulation is expected to feature

In early 2020, the Minister had suggested that the State was prepared to buy up those empty properties previously available on short-term letting platforms but later admitted that less properties were purchased than he would have liked.

The introduction of a vacant homes levy

Instead, he has turned his focus to greater regulations, suggesting that those regulations brought in by his predecessor Eoghan Murphy, need increased resources.

in 2017 but stalled progress when

in the Minister’s forthcoming Housing for All strategy, as is an announcement on a review of the vacant sites levy, which has been deemed as largely ineffective, and the potential introduction of a vacant homes levy.

has been previously proposed in recognition of a need to combat property investment that leaves properties vacant for long periods. Tánaiste Leo Varadkar discussed the idea when appointed Fine Gael leader research revealed that there was limited scope for significant levels of vacant homes to be brought back in high demand areas. 79


Credit The Irish Labour Party

Ireland’s housing magazine

Labour’s priority in housing is ultimately to solve the housing crisis and to do so we believe that we must have an ambitious, State supported, housing system where incentives are put in place to achieve the goal of building affordable homes. Senator Rebecca Moynihan, Labour’s Spokesperson on Housing, Local Government and Heritage, writes. Renters One of our key priorities is a fundamental change in approach to how we protect renters. Firstly, we believe it is necessary to strengthen the powers of the Residential Tenancies Board while increasing its staff so that it actually has the capacity to fulfil its mandate. We think that it is vital that local authorities begin publishing annual statistics regarding inspections of private rental accommodation to ensure regulations are being correctly and effectively enforced. Labour would further prioritise renters

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through the reintroduction of a Rent to Buy scheme, whereby a person with a tenancy for three years who successfully pays all their rent would then see that turned into a deposit for the property that they will then go on to own.

Affordable housing Another priority for the Labour Party is a fundamental rethink of how the State defines ‘affordability’, and accordingly, ‘cost rental’. The purpose of an affordable rental model is to target lower-income renters and it is clear from consultation with experts in the area that the generally agreed definition of

‘affordability’ equates to one-third of a person’s net income. It is therefore a priority of the Labour Party to deliver truly affordable housing, without allowing for profiteering off the cost rental model. If we are serious about solving the housing crisis, State intervention is necessary. However, any intervention needs to be evidence based and costed. The Government needs to think longterm to ensure that this housing will actually represent a fair and low-cost option for working people. State costrental schemes must allow for loans of a minimum 40 years to make this a reality. The housing crisis can be solved, but


Credit: Houses of the Oireachtas

any attempt to do so must be rooted in evidence and fact. We can build an Ireland where every child grows up in decent housing in a good neighbourhood, but only if we invest in practical policies to deliver solutions like affordable housing that is actually within working families reach.

Apartments

Ireland’s housing magazine

Labour believes that owners of apartments that were built deficiently should have State support. It is necessary to introduce a package of measures to assist these owners, including low-cost loans. We would also reform the law dealing with failure to comply with building standards in order to protect innocent inhabitants of defective buildings and stop repeat offenders getting away with disregarding building standards.

Vacant housing We must escalate our approach in dealing with vacant homes. One of our priorities would be the increase of property taxes on vacant homes and the implementation of a Vacant Homes Strategy. Labour’s policy is that a levy should apply to housing units which lie vacant for more than six months. It is an absolute scandal that vast swathes of empty apartments and houses like empty across the country, particularly in Dublin, while thousands of families and individuals have no proper homes. Developers and speculators are purposely holding back a number of these units to artificially inflate rents and housing prices. To ensure efficient and near immediate use of these properties, we would introduce a levy on vacant housing. Local authorities should also be empowered to compulsorily purchase such empty apartments.

Public housing As we emerge from the pandemic and restrictions loosen, it is essential that construction of housing ramps up. The pandemic has not eradicated the urgent need to build housing and deliver homes for people on the social housing list. Throughout the pandemic, while many suffered immense financial hardship, house prices continued to rise. Coupled with a lack of supply and with increases in savings, housing will continue to become even more unaffordable for the vast majority. If the Covid-19 crisis has shone a light on anything in relation to the housing crisis, it is that we cannot allow people to languish in hotels and in hubs. The only solution out of this is by

“If we are serious about solving the housing crisis, State intervention is necessary. However, any intervention needs to be evidence based and costed.” directly building social and affordable homes. While there is an immediate need for social and affordable public housing, it is vital that the public housing stock is not allowed dwindle again in the future. To that end, Labour would require local councils to build or acquire two homes for every one that they sell and local authorities to keep the same volume and quality of land in public ownership. We support the need for a single authority responsible for developing housing and public land in order to deliver homes quickly. Any such authority must have the power and remit to give financial assistance to local authorities and approved housing bodies for the construction of social housing. However, it is a priority for the Labour

Party that none of the land controlled by such an authority could be sold to private interests. Public land must be made available and prioritised for social and affordable housing, including schemes of affordable home ownership.

Right to housing Finally, we consider that holding a referendum to recognise socio-economic rights in the Constitution, including a right to housing, is of vital and pressing importance. For too long, the Constitution has been relied on to justify failing to implement necessary measures to alleviate the housing crisis. It is a priority for the Labour Party that we provide a constitutional balance between private property rights and the right to a home.

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Ireland’s housing magazine

A social democratic approach to housing policy Credit: Social Democrats

At the heart of the Social Democrats’ housing policy is a belief that good quality and affordable housing in sustainable communities is a fundamental requirement for a good life. Our vision is for an Ireland where everyone has a place to call home, writes Cian O'Callaghan TD. The issues in Irish housing public policy can seem intractable, but a solution is possible. It starts by putting values at the heart of decision-making, values like fairness, equality, sustainability, and progress. Such an approach takes heed of a diversity of needs and interests and pushes housing affordability, sustainable communities, and security of tenure to the top of the agenda. Such an approach, I believe, would go a long way to solving the current housing crisis.

Affordable housing The key challenge right now is how unaffordable housing has become. It is estimated that housing should cost up to a maximum of 33 per cent of take-home pay. Right now, too many people are

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spending up to 50 per cent of their wages on housing. This is bad for individuals and bad for the economy. When so much disposable income is soaked up by housing costs, people have less to spend on other goods and services in the local economy. To solve this issue, the State must take a proactive role in delivering social and affordable homes. I believe that State land should be used to build thousands of affordable homes that are sold or rented at cost. The Ó Cualann developments in Ballymun in Dublin, Ardmore in Waterford and Knocknaheeney in Cork show how this can be done. This model of affordable housing now needs to be scaled up and rolled out

nationwide. If this were done with energy and vigour, as social housing developments were built in the 1930s, it could have a significant impact on the cost of housing, resulting in more affordability across the board. As well as building on State land, new measures must be introduced to unlock private supply. Across all our cities and towns, there are derelict buildings and vacant sites. These could and should be homes. Those who hoard land or unused buildings during a housing crisis should face additional taxes and charges. We also need to create more transparency around land prices and ownership. These measures will encourage people to act, and as supply increases, prices should fall.


Sustainable communities The Social Democrats believe in building affordable homes as part of diverse communities that are socially and environmentally sustainable communities with great facilities where no one is excluded or left behind.

To achieve socially sustainable communities, we have to create new housing options that meet the needs of people of all ages and people with disabilities. This can be done by using universal design standards, expanding downsizing and sheltered housing schemes for older people and ringfencing funding for accommodation for people moving out of congregated settings. Housing is crucial to ending marginalisation within our society. As a matter of urgency, we have to end direct provision and provide ‘own door’ accommodation for those seeking asylum. The Housing First model has shown how housing with wrap-around supports can also help provide vital stability for those with addiction and mental health issues. This must be expanded. We would also ensure

Housing is also key to environmental sustainability. Our housing policies must align with our climate policies. To achieve this, we need to build homes that are fit for the future. This includes micro energy generation, rainwater harvesting and carbon-neutral buildings. It also means increasing tree planting and biodiversity projects in new developments, providing for allotments and community gardens and connections to sustainable transport options like cycling infrastructure. In addition, building standards must be set high and rigorously enforced. Every house should have excellent ventilation, and every household should have a garden, balcony, or outdoor space of its own as a key measure for good mental health. We must also ensure that housing is suitable for a future where more of us will be working from home.

Secure tenure in sustainable communities Core also to building sustainable communities is providing people with the stability to settle in a place and form meaningful connections within the local community. The current rules as they relate to renting

have led to huge housing insecurity. I’m in favour of reducing the no-fault eviction grounds, creating leases of indefinite duration, and providing a deposit protection scheme. I also believe that no one should ever be evicted into homelessness. Ultimately, we need to see housing as a human right, something vital that we all require. That is why I wholeheartedly support the creation of a new constitutional right to housing.

Ireland’s housing magazine

Investing in community facilities helps to create strong communities. These include playgrounds, community centres and other places where people can gather and connect.

funding allocated to Traveller housing is spent.

Conclusion For far too long, housing policy in Ireland has been written by developers for developers. The results speak for themselves. Rents have doubled in a decade. House prices in Dublin are up 90 per cent since 2012, and over 8,000 people are currently homeless. This housing crisis won’t be solved overnight, but it also won’t be solved unless we change the direction of the State’s housing policy. We need to see an end to developer-led policymaking and move towards a new type of public policy as set out, one that takes full account of the diverse needs of a modern society. By doing this, we can ensure that everyone in Ireland has a place to call home and that everyone can be enabled to live their life to its fullest potential.

“The State must take a proactive role in delivering social and affordable homes. I believe that State land should be used to build thousands of affordable homes that are sold or rented at cost.”

83 Credit: Social Democrats


Ireland’s housing magazine

Who’s who Jim Baneham

Ireland’s housing magazine

Jim Baneham is Director of Delivery at The Housing Agency. Jim graduated from DIT Bolton Street in 1989. He graduated as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor. Soon after he began working with the National Building Agency (NBA) specifically, in the area of Delivery of Social Housing and other Local Authority facilities. From 2007 Jim moved into a corporate role within the NBA before moving to The Housing Agency in 2011. It was there he helped develop the AHB funding model. Since then he has gone on to be Head of Housing Supply and Head of the Mortgage Support Section.

Colin Bebbington Colin Bebbington is Retail Director at Bord Gáis Energy. Colin is accountable for retail strategy, sales and marketing, segment performance and energy services. He joined Bord Gáis Energy in 2012 in the role of Residential Category Controller with responsibility of delivering the segment P&L. Colin has a wealth of experience in the telecommunications and energy sectors, including senior roles at Vodafone and Meteor. Colin holds a master’s in strategic management from University College Dublin and is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin.

Neil Bolton Neil Bolton is Head of Housing with Respond. He has over 20 years’ strategic and operational experience in social housing gained in both the UK and Ireland. He has worked at Executive level in both jurisdictions. In Ireland Neil was an Operations Director and Property Director with Clúid Housing; in the UK, he was a Customer Services (Property) Director for a SCHT, a large Bath based Housing Association. He also worked in a senior housing role for Bristol City Council. Between 2015 and 2017, he served as a non-executive Director for the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH). He has also worked as an independent consultant primarily working with social housing organisations. Neil holds a PG diploma in housing studies, a PG diploma in business and executive coaching and is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Housing.

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Hugh Brennan Hugh Brennan has worked in construction for the past 40 years. Having started his career with ARUP he moved to contracting. Having spent 10 years working on Humanitarian Aid projects in South Africa and Haiti, he returned to Ireland, accidentally met a kindred spirit in Bill Black and in 2014 they incorporated Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance. Hugh has assumed the lead role in developing the Ó Cualann model to deliver fully integrated, cooperative, affordable housing for purchase and rent throughout Ireland.

Kieron Brennan Kieron Brennan has been CEO of Co-operative Housing Ireland since 2014. He has extensive experience in the community, voluntary and cooperative sector, which saw him lead the Irish League of Credit Unions from 2008 until 2014. Prior to this, he held a leadership position as a Programme Manager with POBAL, which manages programmes on behalf of the Irish Government and the EU. He was also Irish Manager of Triodos Bank, Executive Director of Clann Credo and Chief Executive of Partas.

Liam Burke Liam Burke is Acting Director of Housing and Community at Fingal County Council. He has over 40 years of local government experience, working mainly within the housing area, and is widely respected across the sector. In his most recent role, he managed the delivery of housing support and homeless services in Fingal and the administration of the Tenancy Services Division. He has worked extensively on the delivery of Traveller specific accommodation and has led strategic and operational change in the delivery of housing services. Liam is committed to the transformation of systems in the delivery of housing services.

Gerard Cahillane Gerard Cahillane is a Deputy Director for the National Development Finance Agency. He is with the NDFA since 2004. Prior to joining the NDFA, he was Head of Risk in NTMA with responsibility for Funding and Liquidity management and Benchmarking of the National Debt. Prior to joining the NTMA in 1991, he worked for six years in the Budget and Planning Division of the Department of Finance.


Ireland’s housing magazine

Who’s who Shane Cahir

Michael Carey Michael Carey is Chairman of The Housing Agency. Carey has extensive experience in overseeing State bodies, having served as Chairman of Bord Bia (2011-2018), and as Chair of the Grow Dublin Tourism Alliance in 2016. He is the Executive Chairman of The Company of Food, a specialist food investment business, providing equity to start-up and established high-growth food businesses, and is also Chairman of East Coast Bakehouse, Ireland’s largest biscuit manufacturer. He has been involved in several not-for-profit initiatives: Chair of Soul of Haiti Foundation (2009-2015) and Traidlinks Uganda (2013-2016) Member, Clinton Global Initiative (2009-2015); and a current Member of the Emeritus Advisory Board of Smurfit Graduate Business School.

Louisa Carr Louisa Carr is Head of Services with Respond. She has been working in the housing and homeless sector for 17 years, working with Sophia Housing Association and Focus Ireland. Louisa has specialised in providing support to families and single persons with complex support needs in both long term and emergency accommodation. She has experience in managing a variety of other services including childcare services and tenancy sustainment. Louisa holds an honours degree in social science from UCD and a certificate in housing management from the National College of Ireland.

Collete Cassidy is an Associate in the Property department at O’Connor Solicitors and has acted for a number of housing charities in Ireland. Collete is currently advising extensively in relation to the acquisition of land and houses for social and affordable housing on behalf of a number of housing bodies. She has wide experience in the acquisition of development land and the various planning issues, easements and wayleaves, and other property issues that arise in those transactions. Collete has also advised on contractual issues and collateral warranties arising on the building and development of sites.

Ireland’s housing magazine

Shane Cahir is a Director at CBRE Ireland where he specialises in residential investment. CBRE are Ireland’s leading property advisors with unrivalled expertise in all aspects of the residential investment market, having access to international expertise through their global network. The company’s Residential Capital Markets and Commercial Capital Markets teams operate as a fully integrated single entity within the business. This unquestionably creates the largest property investment advisory team in the country. From structuring forward funding and forward commit transactions in the multifamily space, to advising on design and management of co-living, purpose-built student accommodation and build-to-rent schemes, to the acquisition and sale of residential investments to navigating the affordable leasing model, CBRE are a one-stop-shop.

Collete Cassidy

John Coleman John Coleman has been Chief Executive of the Land Development Agency since its inception in September 2018. John previously held senior roles at Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), worked extensively on the set up of its Residential Delivery division and was its Chief Financial Officer. John is a graduate of University College Dublin (BComm) and a chartered accountant (FCA). Prior to joining NAMA in 2011 he worked in banking and accountancy.

Fiona Cormican Fiona Cormican has over 20 years’ experience in the delivery of social housing projects in a senior management capacity. She is New Business Director with Clúid Housing, one of Ireland’s largest approved housing bodies (AHBs) with a portfolio of assets in excess of €1 billion. Fiona is responsible for leading Clúid’s inhouse development team to achieve their goal of 3,000 new homes before the end of 2022. She is also responsible for the strategic direction and management of Clúid as part of the Executive Management team. Prior to joining Clúid, Fiona was founder and Operations Director of Tógáil Developments, a non-profit property development company. Fiona holds a master’s in project management from the University of Limerick and a primary degree in education as well as a diploma in site management and a PMP Certification.

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Who’s who Sharon Cosgrove

Ireland’s housing magazine

Sharon Cosgrove joined Oaklee Housing as CEO in May 2016, having previously held a number of previous senior roles. Sharon is a member of the Choice Housing Ireland Group Management Team. Since joining Oaklee, Sharon’s focus has been on expanding the development programme, leveraging new sources of finance and leading innovation. Having reached financial close on a €50 million facility with German Bank Nord/LB, Acorn Housing an innovative SPV structure was established, which now holds 217 social housing units. Oaklee Housing is a partner in Comhar Housing, the consortium contracted to deliver the first Social Housing PPP bundle of 543 homes in Ireland. To date, five of the six sites are completed and in management, with almost 400 tenancies commenced. Operational performance and the delivery of exceptional services to tenants is a key focus in Oaklee’s new Corporate Plan 20-23.

Kath Cottier Kath Cottier is Director of Housing Services and leads Clúid’s front line housing management services. She holds an MA in geography and a postgraduate diploma in urban development. She is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and holds a diploma in Irish property and facility management.

Dara Deering Dara Deering is CEO of Home Building Finance Ireland having joined the organisation on 2 September 2019. Dara has extensive experience in financial services having previously served as Executive Director and Head of Retail Banking at KBC Bank Ireland plc since February 2012. During that time Dara led the launch and implementation of a new retail bank, broadening the range of products and services available, and offering a new banking alternative for Irish consumers. Prior to her time in KBC, Dara held a number of leadership positions in the retail financial services industry. She holds an MBA from Smurfit Business School and a bachelor of science management from Trinity College Dublin.

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Pat Dennigan Pat Dennigan is the Chief Executive Officer of Focus Ireland and its sister approved housing body Focus Housing Association. He joined Focus Ireland in March 2014 as head of the finance function, adding responsibility for property in 2016. He was appointed Chief Executive in March 2018. Pat is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland. Prior to joining Focus Ireland, Pat held a number of senior finance and operations roles in companies such as Nortel Networks and Boston Scientific. He is a past president of Galway Lions Club and is a past member of the Charity SORP committee.

Dáithí Downey Dáithí Downey is Chief Officer for Dublin City Council’s Local and Community Development Committee (LCDC). He is also Head of Housing Research and Strategy for the city and leads the Dublin Housing Observatory as Principal Investigator. This includes development of the Housing Observatory’s online data navigator to deliver geospatial analytics and visualisation for Dublin city’s housing strategy. Dáithí was Director of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) to end of 2016, having previously been its Deputy Director and Head of Policy and Service Delivery from 2006. Dáithí is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing, a member of the Royal Irish Academy’s Social Science Committee and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Graham Doyle Graham Doyle is Secretary General of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, having been appointed in July 2020 after the formation of the new Government. Previously he was Secretary General of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Graham was an external recruit to the Civil Service in 2013, initially responsible for the public transport and climate change portfolio. His background is in aviation management and business consulting with experience in insolvency, corporate finance and business strategy. He is a chartered accountant by profession, having trained with PwC, and holds a range of business related qualifications, including an MBA. Beyond his own role, Graham is a member of cross-government groups and boards including, for example, the Civil Service Management Board, the Public Service Leadership Board, the Covid Oversight Group and he is co-chair of the Project Ireland 2040 Delivery Board.


Ireland’s housing magazine

Who’s who Pat Doyle

Declan Dunne Declan Dunne joined Respond as Chief Executive Officer in August 2016. Respond, established 39 years ago, is an approved housing body (AHB) with approximately 10,000 tenants and a service provider with a range of services including daycare for older people, early childhood care and education, homeless services for families, family support and refugee resettlement services. Declan was Chair of the Housing Alliance, which is a collaboration of six of Ireland’s largest approved housing bodies, from 2018 until 2020. Declan is an experienced General Manager who built a business over many years and sold to an American multi-national and went on to work as their General Manager for Ireland. In his previous role, Declan was Chief Executive Officer with Sophia Housing Association. He was also a non-executive director of the Ballymun Regeneration Board for 10 years and chair of the audit committee which oversaw the Ballymun Regeneration Masterplan.

Aoife Flynn Kennedy With over 20 years’ experience in housing services, disability rights and community engagement, Aoife Flynn Kennedy was appointed as Head of Clann in January 2020. Prior to her current role, Flynn Kennedy worked for seven years in the disability sector, supporting people in their move from congregated settings into their own homes. Before that, she worked for three different local authorities in the areas of housing, access, and equality. Outside of work, she is a community activist and is involved locally in addiction services, establishing Bray as the next autism friendly town and she chairs a local approved housing body (AHB) as well.

Tom Gilligan is Director of Services at Mayo County Council with responsibility for housing, roads, service development and the Ballina Municipal District. Prior to joining Mayo, Tom worked as the Head of Finance in both Limerick and Waterford County Councils’. Founder of the popular crowdsourcing, portal website VacantHomes.ie, which Mayo County Council initiates on behalf of the local government sector, Tom is an award winner and recognised leader in the whole area of housing and bringing vacant homes back into use.

Ireland’s housing magazine

Pat Doyle was appointed CEO of Peter McVerry Trust in 2005 and has over 30 years’ experience in the community and voluntary sector. In 2019, Pat was awarded Excellence in Leadership in the Charity Institute Ireland Awards in recognition of his work in the homeless sector. Pat is the former President of the Irish Council for Social Housing (2018-2020). In 2020, he was appointed to the Government’s high-level task forces on homelessness and housing supply. Pat is a member of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive’s Consultative Forum, the Inter-Agency Group on Homelessness, and is a member of the Housing Strategic Policy Committees in Dublin and Kildare.

Tom Gilligan

John Hannigan John Hannigan is Chief Executive Officer of Circle Voluntary Housing Association. He took up his current position in September 2017. John Hannigan previously held the position of Managing Director of Sunbeam House Services since 2010. Prior to that, John worked as Finance Director with Respond Housing Association. John is currently the Vice Chair of The Housing Alliance, an alliance of six of the largest Housing Associations in Ireland. John has 30 years’ experience in the social housing sector in the UK and Ireland. He is also a trustee of the Governing Board of the Chartered Institute of Housing in the UK and in Northern Ireland.

Roger Harrington Roger Harrington is a principal officer at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. He has responsibility for managing the Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF), the Mortgage to Rent scheme and working with the Housing Agency in the context of the acquisitions fund (HAA). CALF and the HAA are funding mechanisms which assist both the Housing Agency and approved housing bodies to build, acquire and make available housing units for social housing use whilst the MTR scheme is a social housing option for eligible borrowers in severe mortgage arrears.

Ad Hereijgers Ad Hereijgers is Business Development Director at RITTERWALD at the Amsterdam location. He has over 35 years of experience in urban development and affordable housing finance and has supported numerous projects in Europe and the USA. Before joining RITTERWALD, he was partner in a consulting boutique for housing and urban planning in Amsterdam and New York. He serves as trusted board room advisor, project director of public private partnerships and advises housing companies and local authorities. He leads master classes in residential and urban development strategies and is the author of several books and articles.

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Who’s who Peter Hesse

Ireland’s housing magazine

Peter Hesse FRICS, FSCSI is Principal Officer/Director of Services responsible for Projects, Procurement and the Pyrite Remediation Scheme in The Housing Agency. He has extensive private sector and international construction management experience, having previously worked as Head of the Surveying National Building Agency. His education includes BSc (surveying), MBA, MSc (planning and development) and post-graduate diploma in construction law and contract administration.

Marie Hunt Marie Hunt established the research department at CBRE Ireland 25 years ago. It is now regarded as one of the most authoritative sources of property information in the Irish market. A regular commentator in the Irish media on property matters, Marie produces a range of property market publications and carries out specialist consultancy work on behalf of a broad range of institutional, private and public sector clients of the Irish business. Marie is an Executive Director of CBRE in Ireland, a member of CBRE Ireland’s Executive Committee and a member of CBRE Research Executive Committee in EMEA. Marie is a chartered surveyor and a fellow of the Society of Chartered Surveyors, Ireland.

Parag Joglekar Parag Joglekar is Head of Development with Respond. He is a registered architect in Ireland and the UK and holds a master’s degree with distinction in human settlements from University of Leuven, Belgium. Parag has worked in both the private and semi-private sector in Ireland, UK and India and has extensive experience in urban design, housing and regeneration and commercial projects. Parag is a member of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and the Architects Registration Board (ARB) in the UK.

Bob Jordan

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Bob Jordan is the National Director of Housing First, based in the Dublin Region Homeless Executive. He is responsible for driving the national rollout of the Government’s Housing First programme. He is working closely with government departments, local authorities, HSE and voluntary agencies to deliver on the targets in the Housing First National Implementation Plan 2018-2021. Prior to his current role, Bob Jordan was a special adviser in the Department of Housing. He was CEO of the housing charity Threshold from 2007 to 2016 and he was previously a senior manager for Dublin Simon Community.

Vincent Keenan Vincent was appointed Chief Executive of North and East Housing Association in 2014, he has some 30 years’ experience in homelessness, housing management and development. Vincent is Chairperson of The Wheel, Ireland’s national association of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises. Vincent has participated in social partnership agreements and has served on the National Homeless Consultative Committee. He is a chartered member of the CIH and holds qualifications in housing management, community development, counselling and has BSc (Hons) degree in business studies from Ulster University and a postgraduate certificate in not-for-profit leadership. He is currently undertaking the Chartered Director Progamme with the Institute of Directors Ireland.

Rachel Kenny Rachel Kenny is Director of Planning Operations for An Bord Pleanála, overseeing appeals nationally, as well as direct applications under strategic infrastructure development and strategic housing development provisions. Rachel has over 20 years’ experience in various planning authorities, having previously worked as senior planner with both Fingal County Council and Meath County Council, as well as experience in the private sector. Rachel is a member of the Irish Planning Institute, and one of its past presidents, as well as a former member of Comhar, the National Partnership for Sustainable Development. She is currently Chair of the Management Board of the National Biodiversity Data Centre. In 2019, Rachel became the first female fellow of the Irish Planning Institute.

Dave Kirwan Dave Kirwan is Managing Director of Bord Gáis Energy. Dave returned to the role of MD in Summer 2020 having completed a successful term in the UK as Managing Director of the UK Customer Operations and latterly MD of the UK Home business. Dave was responsible for leading the Bord Gáis Energy business through the successful sale to Centrica in 2014 and prior to that had worked in Bord Gáis Éireann for 15 years. Dave holds a BE electronics from UCD and is a fellow of the Institute of Engineers of Ireland, he also holds an MBA from UCC and a doctorate in business economics (DBA) from UCC. Dave also serves on the Centrica Group Executive Committee.


Ireland’s housing magazine

Who’s who Eddie Lewis

Susanna Lyons Susanna was appointed CEO following the Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority’s establishment on 1 February 2021. Susanna is responsible for the day-to-day management of the AHBRA. Susanna has over 25 years of experience in risk, financial management, strategy and governance. She spent five years with the Regulation Office in the Housing Agency, focusing on the provision of voluntary regulation including governance, financial viability and performance management. Susanna holds an BA in economics, sociology and politics, master’s in international economics, banking and finance and an MBA in finance.

Deirdre Mason Deirdre Mason is a principal officer at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. She has responsibility for the delivery of social housing supports provided through the leasing and rental model, and related delivery targets. She oversees the ongoing implementation and development of a number of the Department’s current and capital funded social housing programmes including the Housing Assistance Payment scheme (HAP); the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS); the Social Housing Current Expenditure Programme (SCHEP); and the Social Housing Leasing Programme.

John-Mark McCafferty is Chief Executive Officer with Threshold, the National Housing Charity, whose aim is to prevent homelessness through advice, tenancy protection and advocacy. He took up this position in January 2017. For over 25 years, John-Mark has worked on social justice issues in Ireland and Scotland. John-Mark is one of the leading voices and advocates for positive social change, social inclusion, and social justice in Ireland. Prior to Threshold, John-Mark was Head of Social Justice and Policy with the Society of St Vincent de Paul. He also previously worked for the Combat Poverty Agency in Ireland and also Scottish Homes, the national social housing agency. John-Mark also has extensive Board experience with Clúid Housing, One Family and as a former chair of the Vincentian Refugee Centre in Dublin. In September 2020, he was nominated for the Charities Institute of Ireland ‘Excellence in Leadership’ award.

Ireland’s housing magazine

Eddie Lewis is Chairperson of the Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority. Eddie worked in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage for most of his professional career. Over this time he worked in several sections of the Department including as principal officer for a number of areas of housing policy. He is currently working as an associate lecturer with the Institute of Public Administration where he leads the housing studies professional diploma and certificate courses. He is also Chair of the Interim Regulatory Committee which oversees the voluntary regulatory regime for housing associations. He has spoken and written articles on a range of housing topics and is author of Competing in an Uncertain World. Institutional Change in the Irish State, which was published in 2010, and Social Housing Policy in Ireland: New Directions [2019].

John-Mark McCafferty

John McCartney John McCartney is Director of Policy and Communications at The Housing Agency, overseeing the areas of policy, research, communications and training. John joined The Housing Agency having previously been Director of Research at Savills, Statistician at the CSO and Head of Research at Lisney. John has a PhD in economics and first class honours degrees in management, social policy analysis, and economics and sociology.

Pádraig McGoldrick Pádraig McGoldrick is currently serving as Interim Director of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). He has previously had responsibility within the RTB for finance, tenancy registration and strategic projects functions, including lead responsibility for driving and implementing improvements in services and supporting legislative change. He has had considerable public sector experience, and previously worked in the Department of Transport, where he most recently had responsibility in the delivery of the national transport investment programme and for the operation of the Economic and Social Infrastructure Operational Programme (ESIOP) Managing Authority.

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Who’s who Fidelma McManus

Ireland’s housing magazine

Fidelma McManus is a Commercial Property Partner who heads up Beauchamps’ specialist housing team. She is an acknowledged market leader in the acquisition and management of social housing projects and her practice extends to the acquisition, structuring, financing, disposal and leasing of all types of property, including distressed and partially complete residential developments, shopping centres, retail parks and offices. She also advises on all aspects of landlord and tenant law. Working with clients ranging from approved housing bodies, local authorities and public bodies to developers, institutional and private investors and receivers. Fidelma has unique insights into all issues relating to the provision of affordable and social housing.

Donal McManus Donal McManus is CEO at Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH), the national federation of housing associations which has 270 active housing association members throughout the country. He previously worked since 1990 in the public/local authority and housing association sectors in Scotland and Northern Ireland. He specifically worked in areas of housing development, self-build and regeneration, housing management, including homelessness and special needs as well as policy and finance. He had also worked in urban design and land assembly within the private sector. Donal was president of the non-profit housing section of Housing Europe, chair of the European Housing Forum and FEANTSA. From 2003-2005 he was appointed a member of the UN-ECE Task Force on Social Housing. He is currently a board member of the Housing Agency and member of the Audit and Risk Committee and also Chairperson of Housing Europe Working Group on Economics, Finance and EU Internal Market.

Senator Rebecca Moynihan Senator Rebecca Moynihan was appointed as the Labour Party Spokesperson on Housing, Local Government and Heritage in July 2020. Rebecca represented the South West Inner City on Dublin City Council for over 10 years before being elected to the Seanad in 2020. She was also a Councillor for Crumlin-Kimmage between 2014 and 2019 due to changes to the boundaries of the council wards. Before becoming a Senator, Rebecca was a teacher in the further education sector.

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Robert Nicholson Robert Nicholson is Principal Officer of the Department of Housing’s Affordable Housing Unit. The Unit is responsible for national ‘cost rental’ policy and manages including the local authority Affordable Purchase Scheme and the development of the Affordable Purchase Shared Equity scheme for private developments. The unit is also responsible for overseeing funding made available to local authorities and approved housing bodies including the Cost Rental Equity Loan and Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund.

Eoin Ó Broin TD Eoin Ó Broin TD has been a Sinn Féin activist for 20 years. He is a Spokesperson on Housing, Local Government and Heritage and his priorities are public and private investment in job creation across Dublin Mid-West, investment in social housing, greater regulation of the private rented market and government support for those in mortgage distress and fair tax reform to help hard pressed working families while generating sufficient revenue to invest in jobs, health, education, childcare and community services. Eoin was elected to Belfast City Council from 2001 to 2004 and was the party’s Director of European Affairs from 2004 to 2007. He was also a Councillor for the Clondalkin/Newcastle/Rathcoole area having been co-opted in 2013 and topping the poll in 2014.

Niall O’Brien Niall O’Brien is a Partner in Beauchamps banking and finance team. Niall works extensively with major domestic and international financial institutions in the areas of corporate lending including acquisition finance, construction finance, project finance and secured lending. He has extensive experience in advising the main participants in the housing sector including lenders, developers, AHBs, contractors, and Irish and international corporations.

Darragh O’Brien TD Darragh O’Brien TD was appointed Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage in June 2020. He is an elected TD for the constituency of Dublin-Fingal. Prior to his election to the 30th Dáil in 2007, Minister O’Brien worked mainly in financial services and was elected to Fingal County Council in 2004. He was elected to Seanad Éireann in 2011. He has held various positions within the Oireachtas including Vice-Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, membership of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Law Reform, leader of Fianna Fáil in the Seanad and Opposition Frontbench Spokesperson on Dublin, Foreign Affairs and Housing.


Ireland’s housing magazine

Who’s who Cian O’Callaghan TD

John O’Connor John O’Connor is the Chief Executive Officer of The Housing Agency, which is a statutory body under the aegis of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. John is a structural engineer by background and has a wide range of experience in both the public and private sectors. He has extensive experience in the development, provision and direct delivery of housing, particularly in the areas of social housing, affordable housing and regeneration projects. The Agency was established to provide the Department, local authorities and approved housing bodies with support and advice on the delivery of housing and housing services; in addition to a range of other services.

Ruth O’Connor Ruth O’Connor is a Partner in the Property department at O’Connor Solicitors and has established an impressive portfolio of corporate and commercial clients particularly in the area of commercial property. Ruth has advised clients on the acquisition, sale and leasing of corporate headquarters, retail and office premises along with development lands and advises private clients in relation to residential property matters. She has advised Charitable Trustees on their duties and responsibilities and deals with all aspects of the management and administration of charitable trusts and charitable organisations. Ruth is currently ranked as a leading lawyer in Chambers Europe 2021.

Sean O’Connor Sean O’Connor is the Chief Executive of Tuath Housing and a Chartered Surveyor with dual SCSI and RICS membership. Sean is also a long-standing member of the Chartered Institute of Housing with a master’s degree in housing from South Bank University, London. He is a chartered surveyor with over 30 years’ experience of working in social housing with local authorities and housing associations in Ireland and the UK. Sean is currently Chair of the Housing Alliance.

Brian O’Gorman is the CEO of Clúid Housing, one of the largest approved housing bodies (AHBs) in Ireland with a portfolio of assets in excess of €1 billion. Clúid owns or manages over 7,500 homes across the country. Brian leads an awardwinning team of over 230 highly qualified professionals who are delivering a housing pipeline of new social housing developments. Clúid has an ambitious delivery target of 3,000 new homes before the end of 2022. Brian is a resolute advocate of the important role of social housing, the quality and design of which makes it indistinguishable from any other housing. His vision mirrors Clúid’s philosophy to prolong the life of buildings and their environment by investing in sustainability and future capacity. The performance and quality of Clúid’s current housing stock is very much evidence of this.

Ireland’s housing magazine

Prior to becoming a TD, Cian had been a councillor on Fingal County Council for Baldoyle, Sutton and Howth. Cian graduated with a master’s degree from UCD. He has also studied social policy and healthcare economics. Cian has been very active working with residents in newer housing developments where concerns about pyrite and fire safety defects have emerged.

Brian O’Gorman

Thomas O’Malley Thomas O’Malley is a Real Estate Partner at Philip Lee specialising in commercial real estate with a focus on social housing and development land. Thomas works closely with colleagues in the Construction Law team at Philip Lee advising on development agreements which provide for design and build of turn-key projects to be leased to meet social housing needs. He acts for property developers, housing and government bodies on large-scale, mixed retail, commercial, and residential projects. Additionally, he advises on the property elements of renewable energy projects. Thomas has over 30 years’ experience in advising clients on site assembly and development agreements, high-value property acquisitions and disposals, complex title structures, joint ventures/collective property investments, and business leases. He is a CEDR (Centre for Effective Resolution Dispute) Mediator, which allows him to advise on a variety of property-related disputes. Legal 500 describes him as ‘tenacious’ and ‘good at getting deals over the line’.

Paul O’Neill Paul O’Neill is Head of Financial Advisory in the NDFA. He has been with the NDFA since 2008 having previously been a senior associate in KBC Finance Ireland. Paul advises a range of clients across multiple sectors including the Department of Housing, The Housing Agency and various local authorities on public private partnerships, mixed tenure housing, cost rental and leasing schemes throughout the country.

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Who’s who Breen Purcell

Ireland’s housing magazine

Breen Purcell is a Partner and Head of the Real Estate Department at Fieldfisher LLP. He has acted in property-based lending transactions over the past 20 years and has considerable experience in the acquisition and disposal of residential and commercial property. He regularly acts for landlords and tenants in the negotiation and drafting of commercial leases and advises on planning and licencing matters. He works with a client base of vendors, and developers, borrowers and lenders in managing all types of acquisitions, disposals and property financing.

Teresa Purtill Teresa Purtill is Customer and Field Operations Director at Bord Gáis Energy. Teresa joined Bord Gáis Energy in August 2015 and is responsible for Customer and Field Operations. This includes all operational delivery areas including sales and customer service operations, billing and credit management, contact centre management and the engineering field operation. Teresa leads the customer experience and operational excellence programs in Bord Gáis Energy and also manages the business change and strategic programme delivery. Prior to that Teresa held the role of Global VP for Customer Care for the Hertz Corporation with responsibility for both sales and service customer facing and shared service activity across fifteen sites globally. Her background is in leading change programmes, operational excellence and driving transformation. Teresa held a variety of operational, revenue and service roles throughout her 15-year tenure with Hertz. She was also involved in the start-up of a Pan European Care Centre for Xerox Europe in Dublin.

Barry Quinlan Barry Quinlan leads the newly established Housing Affordability, Inclusion and Homelessness Division in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, working to deliver the Government’s objectives across, inter alia, homelessness, affordable purchase and cost rental housing. The new Division also incorporates the housing research function of the Department. Previously, Barry headed up the Department’s housing delivery and local government divisions. Throughout a varied career in public service, Barry has worked in policy development and programme implementation including: the Housing Assistance Payment Programme; the Social Housing Strategy; and the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan.

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Niamh Randall Niamh Randall is Head of Advocacy and Communications and Spokesperson with Respond. She has been working within the field of housing, homelessness and drug use for 21 years, working with the Simon Communities of Ireland as Head of Policy and Communications and National Spokesperson for more than 10 years and Merchant’s Quay Ireland Homeless and Drugs Services in the areas of policy and communications. She was the Irish Representative on the Administrative Council of FEANTSA (European Umbrella group of organisations working on homelessness) from 2011 to 2013.

Austen Reid Austen Reid is the London based Director for RITTERWALD. He specialises in advising the housing association and real estate sector. Before RITTERWALD Austen had a successful executive career at several large English housing associations including Clarion, one of the largest in Europe with over 110,000 homes. He has also been a Director at Savills. He has led several large operational and strategic projects in the fields of mergers and integration, property development, portfolio management and asset management.

Angelyn Rowan Angelyn Rowan is a partner in the Construction, Projects and PPP team at Philip Lee. Angelyn has extensive experience advising funders, developers, employers and contractors on all aspects of the procurement and construction of major projects. She has advised public sector bodies on the procurement of several State projects including the National Development Finance Agency on the first healthcare and social housing public private partnerships in Ireland. In addition to her PPP and procurement experience, Angelyn advises on a widerange of construction law matters, both contentious and noncontentious, including renewables projects, commercial office, social housing, education and healthcare. Angelyn is recognised in both Chambers and Legal 500 for her expertise in projects and construction.

David Silke David Silke is Director of Operations in The Housing Agency, which is a statutory body under the aegis of the then Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. David previously worked in the Secretariat of the National Economic and Social Forum as a policy analyst, as researcher in the Combat Poverty Agency and a senior researcher in the Analytical Services Division of the Department of Social Security.


Ireland’s housing magazine

Who’s who Lorcan Sirr

Paddy Smyth Paddy Smyth is a Partner in Fieldfisher LLP’s Real Estate team. He is a recognised expert in commercial property and real estate finance with a particular focus on residential development. Paddy is passionate about the delivery of social and affordable housing in Ireland. He and the team at Fieldfisher regularly act for developers, funders and local authorities in transactions at all stages of the housing delivery process from land acquisition, development funding and construction through to delivery to local authorities and AHBs.

Richard Stowe Richard Stowe is a projects and construction lawyer, heading up the Beauchamps construction team, with over 25 years’ experience in specialist construction practices in Ireland and Australia both in contentious and non-contentious roles. He has had extensive experience advising in relation to a large number of high value infrastructure and construction projects in both jurisdictions. Since returning to Ireland, Richard has been engaged primarily in property development work, particularly in the social and affordable housing sphere. His expertise includes drafting and advising on contracts for building and engineering works at all tiers, contracts for design consultancy services, project/construction management services, FM/OM services, collateral warranty documentation and agreements for all facets of PPP project work, property development and infrastructure provision.

Caroline Timmons is a principal officer at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, where she works in the area of housing policy, including on the development of Housing for All, housing market policy and social housing policy. She previously worked in the Planning Division of the Department. She is a barrister and practiced at the Bar for a number of years, before joining the Attorney General’s Office as Advisory Counsel. She was subsequently a legal advisor at the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. She is a member of the board of the Land Development Agency.

Ireland’s housing magazine

Lorcan Sirr is a Senior Lecturer in Housing at the Technological University Dublin, and Visiting Professor of Housing at the URV, Tarragona, Spain. He has authored, co-authored and edited numerous papers, newspaper articles, research reports, and books including Dublin’s Future: new visions for Ireland’s capital city (Liffey Press: 2011), Renting in Ireland: the public, private and voluntary sectors (IPA: 2014) and Housing in Ireland: the A-Z guide (Orpen Press: 2019). Lorcan has an MA from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, and an MA and PhD in planning and development from the University of Manchester. He is a board member of the Irish Refugee Council and Fire Station Artists’ Studios, and sits on the Research Committee of the Residential Tenancies Board. His next book, Housing in Ireland – Beyond the Markets (IPA) is due for publication in late 2021.

Caroline Timmons

Dave Walsh Dave Walsh was appointed Chairperson of An Bord Pleanála in October 2018. He previously served as Assistant Secretary in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, with primary responsibility for planning policy (including development and delivery of the National Planning Framework) and housing market and rental policy, with a key focus on coordinated implementation of the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. Prior to this, Dave headed up the Department’s Environment and Climate Division, leading Ireland’s and the EU’s negotiations on climate change during Ireland’s 2013 EU Presidency which ultimately led to the adoption of the Paris UN Climate Change Agreement in 2015.

William Walsh William Walsh is Chief Executive Officer in SEAI, having previously held the position of both Chief Operations Officer and Chief Financial Officer. William joined SEAI in 2013. Prior to joining SEAI he worked for Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) where he held a number of roles including Assistant Chief Executive Officer and Director. Prior to that he held senior management positions in the private sector. William is a chartered accountant, holds a bachelor’s degree in business studies from Dublin City University and a graduate diploma in strategy, innovation and change from UCD.

Colm Ward Colm Ward is currently Director of Housing, Social and Community Development with South Dublin County Council, having responsibility for social and affordable housing delivery and operations. His career in local government has predominantly been spent in the area of housing but has also included roles in enterprise, procurement and environmental services. He holds a first class masters’ degree in local government management from the National University of Ireland/Institute of Public Administration.

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Ireland’s housing magazine

Ireland’s Housing Magazine Directory The following is an A-Z list of organisations and individuals involved in the Irish housing sector including government contacts, housing associations and advisors. Government departments Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage Custom House, Dublin, D01 W6X0 Tel: 01 888 2000 Web: www.housing.gov.ie Newtown Road, Wexford, Y35 AP90 Tel: 053 911 7500 Government Offices, Ballina Co Mayo, F26 E8N6 Tel: 096 24200 Minister: Darragh O’Brien TD Tel: 01 888 2403 Email: minister@housing.gov.ie Minister of State: Peter Burke TD Tel: 01 888 2152 Email: ministerofstate@housing.gov.ie Secretary General: Graham Doyle Assistant Secretary, Housing Delivery: Aine Stapleton, Barry Quinlan Assistant Secretary, Housing Policy, Legislation and Governance: Paul Lemass Assistant Secretary, Planning: Maria Graham

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Oireachtas committee Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage Leinster House Kildare Street Dublin, D02 XR20 Tel: 01 618 3325 Email: jchplg@oireachtas.ie Clerk to the Committee: Anne-Marie Lynch

Committee membership Deputies Francis Noel Duffy, Green Party Joe Flaherty, Fianna Fáil Thomas Gould, Sinn Féin Emer Higgins, Fine Gael Steven Matthews (Chair), Green Party Paul McAuliffe, Fianna Fáil Cian O'Callaghan, Social Democrats Richard O'Donoghue, Independent Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Féin Senators Victor Boyhan, Independent John Cummins, Fine Gael Mary Fitzpatrick, Fianna Fáil Rebecca Moynihan, Labour Party Mary Seery Kearney, Fine Gael

Government agencies and bodies involved in housing An Bord Pleanála 64 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1 D01 V902 Tel: 01 858 8100 Chair: Dave Walsh Director of Planning: Rachel Kenny

Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority Email: info@ahbregulator.ie Chair: Edward Lewis Chief Executive: Susanna Lyons

Home Building Finance Ireland Treasury Dock North Wall Quay Dublin 1 D01 A9T8 Tel: 01 238 4000 Email: info@hbfi.ie CEO: Dara Deering


Housing Agency 53-54 Mount Street Upper Dublin, D02 KT73 Tel: 01 656 4100 Web: www.housingagency.ie Email: info@housingagency.ie

Housing Finance Agency 46 St Stephen’s Green Dublin 2 Tel: 01 872 5722 Web: www.hfa.ie Email: cosec@hfa.ie Chief Executive Officer: Barry O’Leary

Land Development Agency 2nd Floor, Ashford House Tara Street, Dublin 2 Dublin D02 VX67 Tel: 01 910 3400 Web: www.lda.ie Email: info@lda.ie Chief Executive: John Coleman

Office of the Planning Regulator Fourth Floor (West Wing) Park House Grangegorman 191-193A North Circular Road Dublin 7, D07 EWV4 Tel: 01 854 6700 Web: www.opr.ie Email: info@opr.ie Chief Executive and Planning Regulator: Niall Cussen

Property Registration Authority Chancery Street, Dublin 7 D07 T652 Tel: 0761 001 610 Web: www.prai.ie Email: info@prai.ie Chief Executive Officer: Liz Pope

Residential Tenancies Board PO Box 47 Clonakilty Co Cork Tel: 01 702 8100 Web: www.rtb.ie Chair: Tom Dunne Interim Director: Pádraig McGoldrick

Custom House Dublin, D01 W6X0 Email: ntacc@housing.gov.ie Chair: Eoin O’Sullivan

Local government housing contacts Carlow County Council County Buildings, Athy Road Carlow, R93 E7R7 Tel: 059 917 0300 Web: www.carlow.ie Chief Executive: Kathleen Holohan Director of Services, Housing: Michael Brennan

Cavan County Council Farnham Centre Farnham Street Cavan, H12 R6V2 Tel: 049 437 8300 Web: www.cavancoco.ie Email: housing@cavancoco.ie Chief Executive: Tommy Ryan Director of Services: Eoin Doyle

Donegal County Council County House, The Diamond Lifford, Co Donegal, F93 Y622 Tel: 074 915 3900 Web: www.donegalcoco.ie Email: info@donegalcoco.ie Chief Executive: John McLaughlin Director of Service, Housing, Corporate and Cultural Service: Joe Peoples

Dublin City Council Housing and Community Department Block 1, Floor 1 Civic Offices Wood Quay Dublin 8, D08 RF3F Tel: 01 222 2222 Web: www.dublincity.ie

Ireland’s housing magazine

Chair: Michael Carey Chief Executive: John O’Connor Director of Research and Corporate Affairs: David Silke Internal Audit Officer: Jim Baneham Director of Policy and Communications: John McCartney Principal Officer, Projects and Procurement: Peter Hesse

National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee

Chief Executive: Owen P Keegan Deputy Chief Executive, Housing and Community: Brendan Kenny Director of Dublin Regional Homeless Executive: Mary Hayes Director of Housing Delivery: Dave Dinnigan Director of Housing Regeneration: Darach O’Connor Director of City Recovery: Coilin O’Reilly City Architect: Ali Grehan Head of Housing Policy Research and Development: Dáithí Downey

Clare County Council New Road, Ennis Co Clare, V95 DXP2 Tel: 065 682 1616 Web: www.clarecoco.ie Email: customerservices@clarecoco.ie Chief Executive: Pat Dowling Director of Social Development: Anne Haugh Housing Department, Senior Executive Officer: Siobhan McNulty

Cork City Council

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council County Hall, Marine Road Dún Laoghaire Co Dublin, A96 K6C9 Tel: 01 205 4700 Email: housing@dlrcoco.ie Chief Executive: Tom McHugh Director of Housing: Catherine Keenan

Fingal County Council

Housing and Community Directorate City Hall, Anglesea Street Cork, T12 T997 Tel: 021 492 4000 Web: www.corkcity.ie Email: housing@corkcity.ie Chief Executive: Ann Doherty Director of Housing: Tadhg Keating

County Hall, Main Street Swords, K67 X8Y2 Tel: 01 890 5000 Email: customercareunit@fingal.ie Chief Executive: AnnMarie Farrelly Interim Director Housing and Community Department: Liam Burke County Architect: Fionnuala May

Cork County Council

Galway City Council

County Hall Carrigrohane Road Cork, T12 R2NC Tel: 021 427 6891 Web: www.corkcoco.ie Email: housing@corkcoco.ie Chief Executive: Tim Lucey Housing Director: Maurice Manning

City Hall, College Road Galway H91 X4K8 Tel: 091 536 400 Chief Executive: Brendan McGrath Acting Director of Services: Dermot Mahon

Galway County Council Áras an Chontae Prospect Hill, Galway H91 H6KX Tel: 091 509 000 Housing Director: Liam Hanrahan

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Kerry County Council

Louth County Council

Sligo County Council

County Buildings Rathass, Tralee, Kerry Tel: 066 718 3500 Email: housing@kerrycoco.ie Chief Executive: Moira Murrell Director of Housing: Martin O’Donoghue

County Hall Millennium Centre Dundalk, A91 KFW6 Tel: 1890 202 303 Web: www.louthcoco.ie Email: housing@louthcoco.ie Chief Executive: Joan Martin Director of Services: Paddy Donnelly

County Hall Riverside Sligo, F91 Y763 Tel: 071 9111 111 Email: info@sligococo.ie Acting Chief Executive: Tom Kilfeather Acting Director of Housing and Corporate: John Moran

Mayo County Council

South Dublin County Council

Áras an Chontae The Mall, Castlebar F23 FF90 Tel: 094 902 4444 Email: housing@mayococo.ie Chief Executive: Kevin Kelly Director of Services: Tom Gilligan

County Hall Tallaght Dublin, D24 YNN5 Tel: 01 414 9000 Web: www.sdcc.ie Email: info@sdublincoco.ie Chief Executive: Daniel McLoughlin Director of Housing, Social and Community Development: Colm Ward

Kildare County Council

Ireland’s housing magazine

Áras Chill Dara Devoy Park, Naas Co Kildare, W91 X77F Tel: 045 980 200 Chief Executive: Peter Carey Director of Housing: Annette Aspell

Kilkenny County Council Housing Office John’s Green House John’s Green Kilkenny, R95 CX92 Tel: 056 779 4900 Email: housing@kilkennycoco.ie Chief Executive: Colette Byrne Director of Services, Housing: Mary J Mulholland

Meath County Council Buvinda House Dublin Road, Navan Co Meath, C15 Y291 Tel: 046 909 7000 Email: housing@meathcoco.ie Chief Executive: Jackie Maguire Director of Services: Barry Lynch

Tipperary County Council

Monaghan County Council

Waterford City and County Council

Civic Offices, Clonmel Co Tipperary Tel: 076 106 5000 Chief Executive: Joe MacGrath Director of Services, Housing: Sinead Carr

Laois County Council Áras an Chontae JFL Avenue, Portlaoise Co Laois, R32 EHP9 Tel: 057 866 4000 Web: www.laois.ie Chief Executive: John Mulholland Director of Housing: Joseph Delaney

Housing Department County Offices, The Glen Monaghan, H18 YT50 Tel: 047 30500 Email: info@monaghancoco.ie Chief Executive: Eamonn O’Sullivan Director of Services: John Murray

Leitrim County Council Áras an Chontae St George’s Terrace, Townparks Carrick on Shannon Co Leitrim, N41 PF67 Tel: 071 962 0005 Email: housing@leitrimcoco.ie Chief Executive: Lar Power

Limerick City and County Council Merchant’s Quay, Limerick V94 EH90 Tel: 061 407 120 Chief Executive: Pat Daly Director of Housing Development: Aoife Duke

Longford County Council Town Hall, Market Square Longford, N39 C5F2 Tel: 043 334 3300 Web: www.longfordcoco.ie Email: housing@longfordcoco.ie Chief Executive: Paddy Mahon Director of Services: John Brannigan 96

Housing Department Bailey's New Street Waterford, X91 XH42 Tel: 0761 102 020 Email: contact@waterfordcouncil.ie Chief Executive: Michael Walsh Director: Ivan Grimes

Offaly County Council Housing Section Áras an Chontae Charleville Road Tullamore Co Offaly, R35 F893 Tel: 057 934 6800 Email: housing@offalycoco.ie Chief Executive: Anna Marie Delaney Director of Housing: Sharon Kennedy

Westmeath County Council Áras an Chontae Mount Street Mullingar, N91 FH4N Tel: 044 933 2000 Email: customercare@westmeathcoco.ie Chief Executive: Pat Gallagher Director of Service, Housing: Mark Keaveney

Roscommon County Council Áras an Chontae Roscommon Co Roscommon, F42 VR98 Tel: 090 663 7100 Web: www.roscommoncoco.ie Email: housing@roscommoncoco.ie Chief Executive: Eugene Cummins Director of Services: Martin Lydon

Wexford County Council County Hall, Carricklawn Wexford, Y35 WY93 Tel: 053 919 6000 Web: www.wexfordcoco.ie Chief Executive: Tom Enright Acting Director: Carolyne Godkin


Wicklow County Council

Clár I.C.H.

Focus Ireland

County Buildings, Whitegates Wicklow Town, A67 FW96 Tel: 040 420 120 Web: www.wicklow.ie Email: housing2@wicklowcoco.ie Chief Executive: Frank Curran Director of Services: Joseph Lane

Ballyhaunis Road Claremorris Co Mayo Tel: 094 937 1830 Web: www.clarird.com Email: info@clarichmayo.com Services: General needs

9-12 High Street Christchurch Dublin 8 Tel: 01 881 5900 Web: www.focusireland.ie Email: help@focusireland.ie Chief Executive: Pat Dennigan Services: General needs, Homelessness

Housing services

Co-operative Housing Ireland

Olympic House Pleasants Street Dublin 8 Tel: 01 679 1032 Web: www.alone.ie Email: hello@alone.ie CEO: Seán Moynihan Services: Elderly

Carbery Housing Association Ltd The Wooden House Rossnagoose Skibbereen Co Cork Tel: 028 21890 Web: www.carberyhousing.eu Email: office@carberyhousing.eu Director/Chair: José Ospina Services: General needs

Cheshire Ireland 1st Floor, Block 4 Bracken Business Park Bracken Road Sandyford Industrial Estate Dublin, D18 V0Y0 Tel: 01 297 4100 Web: www.cheshire.ie Email: info@cheshire.ie Acting Chief Executive: Theresa Anderson Services: People with disabilities

Clúid Housing Association 159-161 Sheriff Street Upper Dublin, D01 R8N0 Tel: 01 707 2088 Web: www.cluid.ie Email: cluid@cluid.ie CEO: Brian O’Gorman Services: General needs

Circle VHA Phoenix House 32-34 Castle Street Dublin 2 Tel: 01 407 2110/2 Web: www.circlevha.ie Email: info@circlevha.ie Chief Executive: John Hannigan Services: General needs

Cork Mental Health Foundation and Housing Association Unit 4, Nore House Bessboro Road Blackrock, Cork Tel: 021 451 1100 Email: admin@corkmentalhealth.com CEO: Brendan McCarthy Services: Mental health

Cope Foundation Bonnington Montenotte Cork, T23 PT93 Tel: 021 464 3100 Web: www.cope-foundation.ie Email: headoffice@cope-foundation.ie Chief Executive: Sean Abbott Services: People with disabilities

Crosscare Holy Cross College Clonliffe Road, Dublin Tel: 01 836 0011 Web: www.crosscare.ie Email: info@crosscare.ie Chair: Frank O’Connell Services: Homelessness

Daisyhouse Housing Association 6 Emor Street, Portobello Dublin, D08 K3VF Tel: 01 453 6763 Web: www.daisyhouse.org Email: info@daisyhouse.org Secretary: Dave McCabe Services: Homelessness

Depaul Ireland 18 Nicholas Street Dublin, D08 VCP7 Tel: 01 453 7111 Web: www.ie.depaulcharity.org Email: depaul@depaulcharity.net Chief Executive Officer: David Carroll Services: Homelessness

Fold Housing Association Ireland Ltd

Ireland’s housing magazine

ALONE

11-12 Warrington Place Dublin 2 Tel: 01 661 2877 Web: www.cooperativehousing.ie Email: admin@cooperativehousing.ie CEO: Kieron Brennan

The Crescent Build Northwood Park Santry, Dublin 9 Tel: 01 822 8804 Web: www.foldhousing.ie Email: enquiries@foldireland.ie Chief Executive: Denis Buckley Director of Development: Tina Donaghy Services: General needs

Hearth and Mind Riversdale House Ballyboden Road, Rathfarnham Dublin, D14 W7DO Tel: 01 424 1115 Web: www.hearthandmind.ie Email: info@hearthandmind.ie Services: Mental health

Home Again 1 Tempe Terrace Coliemore Road, Dalkey Co Dublin Tel: 01 235 1486 / 01 285 4494 Web: www.homeagain.ie Email: info@homeagain.ie Chair: Stephen O’Leary Services: Youth

Housing Association for Integrated Living (HAIL) Second Floor, Central Hotel Chambers 7-9 Dame Court, Dublin D02 X452 Tel: 01 671 8444 Web: www.hail.ie Email: info@hail.ie Chief Executive Officer: Martina Smith Services: General needs

Housing Alliance Web: www.housingalliance.ie Email: info@housingalliance.ie Chair: Sean O’Connor Vice Chair: John Hannigan

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Good Shepherd Cork Bruac, Redemption Road Cork Tel: 021 427 4240 Web: www.goodshepherdcork.ie Email: info@goodshepherdcork.ie Chair: Brendan Lenihan Services: Homelessness

The Iveagh Trust

Ireland’s housing magazine

Head Office Bull Alley Street Dublin D08 R7DX Tel: 01 454 2312 Web: www.theiveaghtrust.ie Chief Executive: Aidan Culhane Services: General needs

Kerry Mental Health Association Upper Lewis Road Killarney, Co Kerry Tel: 064 663 1009 Web: www.kerrymentalhealth.com Email: info@kerrymentalhealth.com General Manager: John Drummey Services: Mental health

Mental Health Ireland Second Floor, Marina House 11-13 Clarence Street Dún Laoghaire Dublin, A96 E289 Tel: 01 284 1166 Web: www.mentalhealthireland.ie Email: info@mentalhealthireland.ie CEO: Martin Rogan Services: Mental health

North and East Housing Association 287, Block G Blanchardstown Corporate Park 2 Dublin, D15 P229 Tel: 01 820 0002 Web: www.northandeast.ie Email: info@neha.ie CEO: Vincent Keenan Services: General needs

Novas 87 O’Connell Street Limerick Tel: 061 370 325 Web: www.novas.ie Email: info@novas.ie CEO: Michael Goulding Services: Homelessness

Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance CLG 1st Floor Offices, Hertz Building Glenageary Park, Glenageary Dublin, A96 Y5N0 Tel: 01 286 9237 Web: www.ocualann.ie Email: info@ocualann.ie Chief Executive: Hugh Brennan Services: General needs

Oakfield Trust Ltd Unit D, Nangor Road Business Park Nangor Road Dublin, D12 V6V0 Tel: 01 450 8748 Web: www.oakfieldtrust.ie Email: info@oakfieldtrust.ie Manager: Marie Duffin Services: General needs

Merchants Quay Ireland Head Office Merchants Court 24 Merchants Quay, Dublin 8 Tel: 01 524 0160 Web: www.mqi.ie Email: info@mqi.ie CEO: Paula Byrne Services: Homelessness

Oaklee Housing Limited

Merrick House DAC

PACE

Merrick House Eaton Road, Terenure Dublin, D6W HP96 Tel: 01 490 9816 Web: www.merrickhouse.ie Email: info@merrickhouse.ie Services: Elderly

Block 3, Grove Court Grove Road, Blanchardstown Dublin 15 Tel: 01 823 1000 Web: www.paceorganisation.ie Email: headoffice@paceorganisation.ie Secretary: Charlie Delap Services: Homelessness

132 James’s Street Dublin, D08 PK25 Tel: 01 400 2650 Web: www.oaklee.ie Email: enquiries@oakleehousing.ie CEO: Sharon Cosgrove Services: General needs

Peter McVerry Trust 29 Mountjoy Square Dublin, D01 C2N4 Tel: 01 823 0776 Web: www.pmvtrust.ie Email: info@pmvtrust.ie CEO: Pat Doyle Services: Homelessness

Prosper Fingal Housing Association Strand Street, Skerries Co Dublin, K34 TD61 Tel: 01 849 3600 Web: www.prosperfingal.ie Email: info@prosperfingal.ie Services: People with disabilities

Respond Housing Association Head Office Airmount, Dominick Place Waterford, X91 A397 Tel: 051 840 200 Web: www.respond.ie Email: info@respond.ie CEO: Declan Dunne Services: General needs

The Salvation Army PO Box 2098 Freepost F3201 Dublin, D01 AH99 Tel: 01 874 3795 Web: www.salvationarmy.org.uk/republic-ofireland Email: info@salvationarmy.org.uk Services: Homelessness

Saoirse Housing Association PO Box 10819 Tallaght Dublin 24 Tel: 01 463 0000 Web: www.saoirsewomensrefuge.ie Email: admin@sdvs.ie CEO: Alison Graham Services: Domestic violence

Simon Communities of Ireland

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St Andrews House 28-30 Exchequer Street Dublin 2 Tel: 01 671 1606 Web: www.simon.ie Email: communications@simoncommunity.com Services: Homelessness


Sligo Social Service Council Retreat House Charles Street, Sligo Tel: 071 914 5682 Web: www.sligosocialservices.ie Email: info@sligosocialservices.ie CEO: Christina McTaggart Services: Homelessness, elderly, general needs

Sonas

Sophia Housing Association 25 Cork Street Dublin 8, D08 YD91 Tel: 01 473 8300 Web: www.sophia.ie Email: info@sophia.ie Secretary: Dr. Liz Murphy Services: Homelessness

Threshold 21 Stoneybatter Dublin, D07 KV61 Tel: 1800 454 454 Web: www.threshold.ie Email: advice@threshold.ie Chief Executive: John-Mark McCafferty Services: Homelessness

Túath Housing 33 Leeson Street Lower Dublin, D02 KD68 Tel: 01 676 1602 Web: www.tuathhousing.ie Email: info@tuathhousing.ie Chief Executive: Sean O’Connor Services: General needs

WALK Head Office 1 Longmile Road Walkinstown, Dublin 12 Tel: 01 465 0388 Web: www.walk.ie Email: info@walk.ie Services: People with disabilities

YMCA Dublin 53 Aungier Street Dublin, D02 CH96 Tel: 01 478 2607 Web: www.ymca.ie Email: info@ymca.ie CEO: Kathryn O’Mahony Services: Homeless

Planning consultants

Chartered Institute of Housing

AOS Planning CAAS Ltd

Northern Ireland Office Carnmoney House Edgewater Office Park Belfast, BT3 9JQ Tel: 028 9077 8222 Web: www.cih.org Email: ni@cih.org

Construction Industry Federation Head Office Construction House Canal Road, Dublin 6 Tel: 01 406 6000 Web: www.cif.ie Email: info@cif.ie Director General: Tom Parlon

Irish Council for Social Housing 50 Merrion Square East Dublin, D02 HP84 Tel: 01 661 8334 Web: www.icsh.ie Email: info@icsh.ie CEO: Donal McManus Director of Policy: Karen Murphy

Irish Planning Institute Ground Floor, Fitzwilliam House 6 Fitzwilliam Street Lower Dublin, D02 TX34 Tel: 01 878 8630 Web: www.ipi.ie Email: info@ipi.ie President: Conor Norton

Property Industry Ireland 84/86 Lower Baggot Street Dublin 2 Tel: 01 605 1500 Web: www.propertyindustry.ie Email: info@propertyindustry.ie Director: David Duffy

Royal Town Planning Institute Ireland 1 Westland Square Pearse Street Dublin, D02 EP02 Tel: 08925 15649 Web: www.rtpi.org.uk Email: contact@rtpiireland.org Chair: Aidan Culhane Director: Craig McLaren

1st Floor, 24–26 Upper Ormond Quay Dublin, D07 DAV9 Tel: 01 872 1530 Web: www.aosplanning.ie Email: info@aosplanning.ie Director: Conor Skehan

BMA Planning

Ireland’s housing magazine

5 Aston Quay Dublin, D02 K504 Tel: 01 671 8092 Web: www.domesticabuse.ie Email: info@sonasdomesticabuse.ie CEO: Fiona Ryan Services: Domestic violence, homelessness

Industry bodies

Taney Hall, Eglinton Terrace Dundrum, Dublin 14 Tel: 01 676 4522 Web: www.bmaplanning.ie Email: info@bmaplanning.ie Managing Director: Ray Ryan

Coakley O’Neill Town Planning NSC Campus Mahon, Cork Tel: 021 230 7000 Web: www.coakleyoneill.ie Email: info@coakleyoneill.ie Contact: Aiden O'Neill

Downey Planning 1 Westland Square Pearse Street, Dublin 2 Tel: 01 253 0220 Web: www.dpaa.ie Email: info@dpaa.ie Founder & Principal Planner: John Downey

Fenton Associates 13 The Seapoint Building 44-45 Clontarf Road Dublin 3 Tel: 01 479 3140 Web: www.fenton.ie Email: info@fenton.ie Principal: Shay Fenton

Hogan Associates The Lodge Proby's Quay, Cork Tel: 021 431 1206 Web: www.hoganarchitecture.com Email: andrew@hoganarchitecture.com Managing Director: Patrick O’Hanlon

HRA Planning

Dublin Office 3rd Floor, 121/122 Capel Street Dublin 1 Tel: 087 644 3389 Web: www.hraplanning.ie Email: info@hraplanning.ie Limerick Office 3 Hartstonge Street Limerick City Tel: 061 435 000

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John Spain Associates 39 Fitzwilliam Place Dublin, D02 ND61 Tel: 01 662 5803 Web: www.jsaplanning.ie Email: info@johnspainassociates.com Managing Director: John Spain

Manahan Planners

Ireland’s housing magazine

38 Dawson Street Dublin 2 Tel: 01 679 9094 Web: www.manahanplanners.com Email: tony@manahanplanners.com Director: Tony Manahan

Marston Planning Consultancy 23 Grange Park Foxrock Dublin 18 Tel: 086 383 7100 Web: www.marstonplanning.ie Email: anthony@marstonplanning.ie Principal: Anthony Marston

McCutcheon Halley

Finance AIB 10 Molesworth Street Dublin 2 Tel: 0 1 660 0311 Web: www.aib.ie Contact: Donall O’Shea

KPMG 1 Stokes Place St Stephen’s Green Dublin, D02 PE03 Tel: 01 410 1000 Contact: Michele Connolly

Permanent TSB 56-59 St Stephen's Green Dublin 2 Tel: 01 212 4101 Web: www.permanenttsb.ie

Bank of Ireland 40 Mespil Road Dublin 4 Tel: 01 661 5933 Web: www.bankofireland.com

Barclays One Molesworth Street Dublin 2 D02 RF29 Tel: 01 618 2600 Web: www.barclays.ie

Castlehaven Finance

RITTERWALD Unternehmensberatung GmbH Kranzler Eck Kurfürstendamm 22 10719 Berlin Tel: +49 30 609 85 82 40 Email: info@ritterwald.de Contact: Ad Hereijgers

Ulster Bank Ulster Bank Group Centre 16 George's Quay Dublin, D02 VR98 Tel: 01 608 4000 Web: www.ulsterbank.com

Dublin Office Kreston House Arran Court, Arran Quay Dublin 7 Tel: 01 804 4477 Web: www.mhplanning.ie Email: info@mhplanning.ie Founding Director: Brian McCutcheon

Dublin office 5th Floor, South Block Rockfield Central Dundrum, Dublin 14 Tel: 01 563 6000 Web: www.castlehavenfinance.com Email: info@castlehavenfinance.com Partner: Clark McCann / Will Aylmer

McGill Planning Ltd

Cork Office City Quarter Lapp’s Quay, Cork Tel: 021 206 6660

Ten Earlsfort Terrace Dublin, D02 T380 Tel: 01 920 1000 Web: www.arthurcox.com Email: dublin@arthurcox.com Head of Commercial Property: Kenneth Egan

EY Ireland

Beauchamps

45 Herbert Lane Dublin, D02 RR92 Tel: 01 284 6464 Web: www.mcgplanning.ie Email: info@mcgplanning.ie Managing Director: Colin McGill

Simon Clear and Associates 3 Terenure Road West Terenure, Dublin 6W Tel: 01 492 5934 Web: www.clearconsult.ie Email: admin@clearconsult.ie Principal: Simon Clear

WK Nowlan Molyneux House 67/69 Bride Street Dublin 8 D08 C8CN Tel: 01 905 8350 Web: www.wkn.ie Email: info@wkn.ie Contact: John McNally

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Advisors

EY Building, Harcourt Centre 2 Harcourt Street, Dublin Tel: 01 475 0555 Managing Partner: Frank O'Keeffe

HSBC Bank 1 Grand Canal Square Grand Canal Harbour Dublin, D02 P820 Tel: 01 635 6000 Web: www.hsbc.ie Email: dublinreception@hsbc.com

KBC Bank Ireland Sandwith Street Dublin, D02 X489 Tel: 01 664 6100 Web: www.kbc.ie

Legal Arthur Cox

Riverside Two Sir John Rogerson's Quay Dublin, D02 KV60 Tel: 01 418 0600 Web: www.beauchamps.ie Email: info@beauchamps.ie Partner: Fidelma McManus

Fieldfisher The Capel Building Mary’s Abbey Dublin D07 N4C6 Tel: 01 828 0600 Web: www.fieldfisher.com Partner: Breen Purcell

Matheson 70 Sir John Rogerson's Quay Dublin 2 Tel: 01 232 2000 Web: www.matheson.com Email: dublin@matheson.com Partner: Nicola Dunleavy


O’Connor Solicitors

SIAC Construction Ltd

8 Clare Street, Dublin 2 Tel: 01 676 4488 Web: www.oclegal.ie Email: mail@oclegal.ie Partner: Ruth O’Connor

Dolcain House Monastery Road Clondalkin Dublin, D22 F8F5 Tel: 01 403 3111 Web: www.siac.ie Email: info@siac.ie Chief Executive Officer: Martin Maher

Philip Lee

Construction companies BAM Ireland Head Office Kill, Co Kildare W91 KH3E Tel: 045 886400 Web: www.bamireland.ie Email: info@bamcontractors.ie Contact: Micheál Keohane

CLG Developments Ltd Head Office Red Cow Business Park Robinhood Road Clondalkin, Dublin 22 Tel: 01 461 4100 Email: info@clg.ie

Coen Steel Deerpark Industrial Estate Oranmore, Co Galway, H91 D9P1 Tel: 091 790 044 Web: www.coensteel.ie Email: sales@coensteel.ie Managing Director: David Coen

Coffey Group Moanbaun Athenry Co Galway, H65 Y078 Tel: 091 844 356 Web: www.coffeygroup.com Email: info@coffeygroup.com Property Director: Mark Coffey

John Paul Construction Dundrum Business Park Dundrum Road Dublin, D14 E1R9 Tel: 01 215 6100 Web: www.johnpaulconstruction.co.uk Email: info@johnpaul.ie

Sisk Head Office Wilton Works, Naas Road Clondalkin Dublin 22 Tel: 01 409 1500 Web: www.johnsiskandson.ie Managing Director: Frank Quirk

Energy Bord Gáis Energy 1 Warrington Place Dublin 2, D02 HH27 Tel: 01 233 5000 Web: www.bordgaisenergy.ie Managing Director: Dave Kirwan

SSE Airtricity Energy Services Red Oak South South County Business Park Leopardstown, Dublin 18 D18 W688 Tel: 0345 603 0026 Web: www.sseairtricity.com General Manager: Stuart Hobbs

Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland 3 Park Place Hatch Street Upper Dublin 2 Co Dublin D02 FX65 Tel: 01 808 2100 Web: www.seai.ie Email: info@seai.ie Chief Executive: William Walsh

Real estate and property CBRE Ireland

Dublin Office Connaught House, 3rd Floor One Burlington Road Dublin 4 Tel: 01 618 5500 Web: www.cbre.ie Email: cbredublin@cbre.com Director: Shane Cahir

Lisney St Stephen’s Green House Earlsfort Terrace Dublin, D02 PH42 Tel: 01 638 2700 Web: www.lisney.com Email: dublin@lisney.com Contact: Christopher Belton

Ireland’s housing magazine

7/8 Wilton Terrace Dublin 2, D02 KC57 Tel: 01 237 3700 Web: www.philiplee.ie Email: info@philiplee.ie Partner: Angelyn Rowan

Cork Office 3rd Floor, One Albert Quay Cork Tel: 021 491 7255 Managing Director: Brian Edwards

RITTERWALD Unternehmensberatung GmbH Kranzler Eck Kurfürstendamm 22 10719 Berlin Tel: +49 30 609 85 82 40 Email: info@ritterwald.de Contact: Ad Hereijgers

Savills Ireland 33 Molesworth Street Dublin 2 D02 CP04 Tel: 01 618 1300 Web: www.savills.ie Chair: Angus Potterton

Sherry FitzGerald 176 Pembroke Road Ballsbridge Dublin 4, D04 EN80 Tel: 01 269 8888 Web: www.sherryfitz.ie Email: info@sherryfitz.ie Managing Director: Ivan Gaine

Communications Property District: Strategic communications 3013 Lake Drive Citywest Business Campus Dublin 24 Tel: 01 442 8811 Web: www.propertydistrict.ie Email: info@propertydistrict.ie Chief Executive Officer: Carol Tallon

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Avoiding ‘housing dystopia’ Ireland’s housing magazine

‘Generation rent’ has become a permanent feature — a new ‘housing precariat’ — living in expensive, insecure, high-rise ‘co-living’ apartment blocks with major issues of stress, family breakdown, and decline of community and social cohesion. Maynooth University’s Rory Hearne writes. “The wave of financialisation with ‘cuckoo’ investor funds buying up and building land and homes reached a high point in 2022 but crashed as part of the global financial crisis that year. As a result, co-living ‘build-to-rent’ blocks have been sold on by their investors and have become dilapidated, yet are still being rented out at huge rents because of ongoing housing shortages.” This is a potential ‘housing dystopia’ that I write about in my book, Housing Shock, that could be possible for Ireland if we continue along the current housing policy trajectory. That dystopia has come into even sharper focus with the recent government responses to the public anger over investor funds buying up the Mullen Park housing estate in Maynooth. Unfortunately, the Government’s measures are woefully inadequate and will have no major impact on investment funds buying up houses and apartments and renting them out at unaffordable rents. The exclusion of apartments from the measures is disastrous from the perspective of providing sustainable homes and communities. The new buildto-rent apartment developments are of reduced size and standards. Apartments are homes too. This ‘financialisation’ of our housing system is embedding a permanent unaffordability and lowering of housing standards. It’s neither socially nor economically sustainable. The investor funds and real estate investment trusts (REITs) need to be

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stopped because every home they buy up or deliver is a permanently unaffordable rental home. The real estate investment tax break should be scrapped, the stamp duty should be raised to 20 per cent, and rent affordability mechanisms introduced along with lifetime leases, so that private market rental homes are affordable and secure for people. A referendum to insert the right to housing in the Constitution is also required as part of these measures to guarantee they cannot be challenged by property rights. In regard to the argument on supply and financing, that is a red herring. The Government is the ultimate responsible body and has the ability to ensure the actual delivery of a supply of genuine affordable homes. It must do this in a number of ways. The State must build social and affordable housing on an unprecedented scale (with local authorities, AHBs and co-ops). They have started building social housing, but most new social housing is being bought from the market, which reduces supply, or leased, which is very poor value for money and does not give life time secure tenancy to tenants. These approaches are wholly inadequate to the housing need that exists from those looking to buy an affordable home, to rent affordably and securely, to address those young adults living at home, and the ongoing homelessness crisis. The State should

be providing a guaranteed supply of affordable homes in the region of 20,000 new homes per year. The Government could use NAMA (it has land and finance to provide 70,000 homes) and State borrowing to double capital spending to build additional actually affordable cost rental homes. The State could support and ensure the building of 10,000 affordable purchase homes for sale at approximately €250,000 per unit, whereby local authorities and ‘not-for-profit’ housing providers like AHBs and Ó Cualann, build the units themselves on State land, using SMEs and some larger contractors. If the land is subsidised or if a site services fund is made available, the State pays a maximum of €50,000 per unit toward the cost of these houses. The total maximum cost to the State is €0.5 billion to build 10,000 homes. That is half what the State currently pays to private landlords in HAP rental subsidies. If we are serious about a housing system that provides genuinely affordable and secure homes to rent and buy, these are the measures that should be introduced. Rory Hearne is an assistant professor in social policy with the Department of Applied Social Studies at Maynooth University.


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