Minister English’s speech at the launch of 11 new affordable homes in Poppintree

Damien English meeting new residents at the Ó Cualann project

Damien English meeting new residents at the Ó Cualann development

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Lord Mayor, Ladies and Gentleman, I want to thank Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance for inviting me here today.

It is a privilege to be here to share in what I sense is an exciting and life-changing moment for the new homeowners and also for O’Cualann. I would like to compliment Hugh Brennan, CEO and his staff for making these affordable homes a reality for the new owners. I hope they enjoy many happy years here in the company of family and friends.

This project demonstrates what can be achieved when Approved Housing Bodies, local authorities, industry professionals and banks are prepared to work together in a co-ordinated, collaborative and proactive way.

These 11 homes, which are part of a larger scheme of 32 houses, would not otherwise have been planned and built, but are now being delivered at an enviable and very affordable price to the homeowner. An earlier phase delivered 17 houses which are already occupied. This has been achieved by focussing on those significant costs that it was possible to influence – land acquisition costs, development levies and developer’s margin – all of which were substantially reduced. Homeowners were identified and, subject to eligibility criteria and gain sharing agreements, were given access to pre-arranged finance to fund the development of their home. For those in the private rental sector in Dublin and the surrounding commuter regions, this project has to be commended as an exemplar for affordable housing.

“This project demonstrates what can be achieved when Approved Housing Bodies, local authorities, industry professionals and banks are prepared to work together in a co-ordinated, collaborative and proactive way.”

I see a bright and secure future for Approved Housing Bodies such as O’Cualann. Currently, we have almost 30,000 social homes being provided by housing associations and it is estimated that this sector has the capacity to contribute almost a third of the 50,000 new social homes that we are currently targeting for delivery by 2021 under Rebuilding Ireland, with a budget of €6billion.

The significant funding being provided for new housing delivery will enable AHBs to increase their revenue flows, including from rent, allowing them to enhance their staffing and organisational capacity. My Department is continuing to work with the key local authorities and the Housing Agency, to identify sites which would see the level of ambition increase to at least 10,000 new affordable homes from local authority owned land.

This new scheme is a part of this ambition and differs from previous affordable housing schemes in that it replaces the time-limited claw-back which applied under the various previous affordable housing schemes. This scheme is aimed at low to middle-income households who would not otherwise be eligible for State housing support, renting in and around our cities, and who are unable to purchase a property on the housing market.

However, it is clear that good progress is being made, with all housing activity indicators trending very positively. The Government is focused on ensuring housing, particularly in Dublin and our other cities, is accessible and affordable to those on normal incomes.

I want to wish the new homeowners and their families the very best in their the new homes and their new community; I would also like to wish O’ Cualann every success in its ambitions to grow and scale-up its cooperative housing programme. We all benefit as a society from your contribution as a voluntary housing body.

I look forward to working further with you all and others in the AHB sector during my term as Minister for Housing and Urban Development. Thank you.