A recent annual activity report released by the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) stated that non-for-profit agencies were responsible for almost 40% of social housing delivered across Ireland, with 3,219 social homes provided by these approved housing bodies (AHBs).
The additional houses provided by these organisations exceeded the government’s Rebuilding Ireland’s Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness targets by 345 units.Their efforts have greatly contributed to a reduction in wait lists for public social housing in excess of 4,000 households.
This is obviously positive news for the Irish people and goes far in reducing pressure on the housing market. While there remains a lot of work to be done in order to reduce the current discrepancy between demand and supply that has left the market facing a nationwide housing crisis.
The Irish property market has shown a growing need for social housing options, demonstrated by staggering figures released earlier this year showing homelessness rates jumping 243% since April of 2015 according to Focus Ireland.
Approved Housing Bodies
AHBs are “private, non for profit organisations formed for the purpose of relieving housing need.” These organizations are approved and regulated by the Department of Housing and they provide and manage social rented housing. According to ICSH, there are 270 active AHBs in Ireland primarily providing housing for an income-based rent.
It is interesting to note that over half of these homes provided by AHBs were newly constructed units (54%), drawing into question the role of the public and private sectors in the construction of residential housing.
These organisations are increasingly becoming involved with property development, whereas their traditional role had been primarily property managers. This trend is placing them in direct competition with private companies in the residential construction and development sector. Both operate on different funding and site acquisition models but with the market in its current state, desperate for affordable housing options, AHBs could be part of a growing patchwork of solutions providing alternatives to the current model.
Ireland’s Growing Need for Affordable Housing Options
The government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan has come under increasing scrutiny and with the latest housing report listing 10,300 people as homeless in Ireland, immediate action is required. One issue that has proven to be a challenge for the Irish government is the difficulty in acquiring suitable land for development in a timelier fashion, with a more efficient bureaucratic way. In response to the dilemma, chief executive of the Irish Council for Social Housing has called on the Land Development Agency to provide more land for AHBs to build social housing.
The supply of housing in Ireland has been increasing since the recession, but not as quickly as the market has demanded. Rising rental prices and Rent Pressure Zones have been receiving a lot of media and legislative attention recently with a new report by Daft.ie revealing that it is significantly cheaper to buy and pay a mortgage than to pay rental prices. The report showed rental prices rose 1.5% in the first quarter of 2019 with the average rent now at €1,366 nationwide and €2,002 in Dublin – up an astounding 6.8%.