The good news is that the Housing Agency is now providing monthly updates on the number of residential property units – houses and apartments – sold and leased by NAMA for social housing. The bad news is that 18 months after environment minister, Phil Hogan did a victory lap when he trumpeted that NAMA would provide 2,000 homes for social housing in 2012, that by the end of April 2013, just 263 homes have in fact been acquired by local authorities and approved housing bodies. And of these 263 homes, 58 were in fact provided in the summer of 2011, before Minister Hogan’s announcement for 2012. And as noted on here previously, the failure to deliver the target is not NAMA’s fault.
NAMA has bent over backwards to make its property available for social housing. It has provided lists of 4,000 homes and extensively engaged with the Department of the Environment and others to deliver the homes. The fault for non-delivery is firmly the Government’s, and it is galling that the Government’s capital budget was underspent in 2012 to help met the deficit run up by Minister James Reilly’s Department of Health.
The latest figures from the Housing Agency say that the 263 homes provided by NAMA to date comprise 179 apartments and 84 houses. There are a further 76 homes – 3 apartments and 73 houses – where contracts have been entered into, but the homes are not yet completed. We learned in a parliamentary question this week, that of the 4,000 homes offered for social housing by NAMA, the Housing Agency and local authorities have “confirmed demand” for just 1,500 of these.
In respect of completions, we learned in April 2013 that NAMA had entered into a relationship with the National Association of Building Co-Operatives (NABCO). NABCO is to complete the construction of part-constructed NAMA housing and it will then be leased for social housing. At the time, there was a statement on the NABCO website but it appears to have been removed today, and a search for NAMA or “national asset” on its website yields no results. In the Dail this week, the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance about the relationship and you won’t be surprised to learn the response was “I am advised by NAMA that the particulars of the lease agreement, including term length and rental fee, have been negotiated in confidence with NABCO as a commercial counterparty and it would not be appropriate for the Agency to publish such details as it could prejudice the conduct or outcome of NAMA’s negotiations with other commercial counterparties”
So, not much transparency on NAMA’s social housing dealings, either.
The parliamentary question and response are here:
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance if he will outline the arrangement between the National Asset Management Agency and the National Association of Building Co-Operatives; the number of properties to which the arrangement relates; the length of the lease terms; if NAMA is charging market rents; the location of the properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21636/13]
Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: NAMA, through its subsidiary National Asset Residential Property Services, has entered into an agreement to lease 13 houses in Cobh, County Cork to the National Association of Building Co-Operatives (NABCO). I am advised by NAMA that the particulars of the lease agreement, including term length and rental fee, have been negotiated in confidence with NABCO as a commercial counterparty and it would not be appropriate for the Agency to publish such details as it could prejudice the conduct or outcome of NAMA’s negotiations with other commercial counterparties.