It was just before Christmas last year when Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan announced with fanfare that NAMA had agreed to make 2,000 homes available for social housing. In a country where there are nearly 100,000 households on the housing waiting list, the announcement was roundly welcomed. Six months later, and we learn that not a single home has so far come available.
Yesterday in the Dail, Sinn Fein TDs, Pearse Doherty, Sandra McLellan and Martin Ferris asked the Housing Minister, Jan O’Sullivan about progress with releasing NAMA controlled homes for social housing. More than half the 2,000 homes are apparently unsuitable or have been otherwise sold/rented. Though there are 405 homes “at various stages of the approval process and 719 are being appraised”, contracts have been signed in respect of 58. But these 58 are likely to have been the 58 apartments at the Beacon South Quarter which were sold to the Cluaid Housing Association. Last summer 2011. In other words, since the fanfare of the 2,000 homes announcement six months ago, not a single home has in fact been acquired for social housing.
“Deputy Martin Ferris : To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the steps he is taking to ensure that housing secured for leasing under the National Assets management Agency will not leave tenants isolated from community and services.
Deputy Sandra McLellan: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reasons properties offered by the National Assets Management Agency for leasing were deemed unsuitable..
Deputy Pearse Doherty :To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will give an update on the development of the National Assets Management Agency properties for social housing; and if he will endeavour to secure housing from NAMA for local authority ownership..
Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, Jan O’Sullivan: I propose to take Question Nos. 16, 31 and 43 together. Since the announcement in December 2011 thatNAMA would commit to providing up to 2,000 units for social housing by the end of 2012, my Department, the Housing Agency and NAMA have been working together with housing authorities and approved housing bodies towards achieving this target. The units being advanced through NAMA will in general be provided through the Social Housing Leasing Initiative under the standard terms and conditions that apply.
To date over 2,000 units have been examined with a view to determining their suitability for social housing. Of the original number, 701 have been deemed unsuitable by housing authorities. Housing authorities assess the suitability of these properties with regard to location, local demand, the nature of the accommodation and sustainable community principles.
A further 372 have been withdrawn, usually by property owners, as circumstances have changed. In some cases the properties concerned have been let on the open market or sold and are no longer available as vacant units.
At present demand has been confirmed for nearly 1,200 available units and these are currently being processed. It is important to note that while demand has been confirmed in respect of practically all residential developments proposed by NAMA, the requirement to provide for an appropriate mix of tenures and to avoid undue segregation in housing means that local authorities will only ever deem a certain proportion of units within individual developments suitable for social housing. Discussion and negotiation has commenced in respect of these properties involving approved housing bodies, local authorities, the property owners, financial institutions, receivers and other relevant parties.
Of these 1,200 properties, contracts are signed in respect of 58 units, 405 of these units are at various stages of the approval process and 719 are being appraised. It is expected that units will be tenanted in the second half of the year. NAMA continues to work with a view to identifying additional units suitable for inclusion in the programme.”