By Sian Abraham Long
On 12 December, it was announced that Circle Voluntary Housing Association (VHA) agreed a €51m investment package, to provide affordable housing for families across Ireland. The investment aims to build 250 homes over the next 12 months.
A statement released by VHA said: “The finance package, structured by Centrus, who acted as Financial Advisor to Circle, and funded by AIB, provides the housing association with a three-part loan, over a 30-year period. This will include a revolving credit facility, a term loan and a working capital facility.” The VHA say this will “safeguard for ongoing speedy development of social housing.”
The announcement comes amid mounting pressure on the Irish Government to provide affordable housing, with 68,000 people around Ireland remaining on housing waiting lists.
6,688 people are currently homeless in the country, including 1,733 families, according to the latest statistics from the Department of Housing.
John Hannigan, CEO of Circle VHA said: “This innovative public-private partnership approach is what is needed to solve the housing crisis and now with our 30-year agreement and our existing structures, we estimate we will be able to bring approximately 300 social houses to the market each year.
“What we have achieved is a modern approach to financing that has never been accomplished in this sector before. It is a sustainable model which will benefit thousands of families over the course of many years due to the revolving nature of the credit, allowing us to expand and provide additional homes on an ongoing basis.”
Already, there are 69 homes ready to be moved into, of the 200 planned to be built. The planned houses are to be built in Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Kildare, Dublin and Galway.
Jason Murphy, CEO, Centrus said: “I am confident that if developers, legal teams, financial institutions and approved housing bodies continue to foster collaboration in a similar manner, projects like this will grow and develop, allowing the provision of housing to be expedited.”
For many people, like some 18,000 on the housing waiting lists for over seven years, the announcement may bring optimism, but the real question is, will these collaborative housing projects yield successful and fair results?