Tuesday 26 September 2017

Focus Ireland rejected offer of properties, reveals Nama

FOCUS: Joyce Loughnan
FOCUS: Joyce Loughnan
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

NAMA has lashed out at homeless charity Focus Ireland over claims that the agency is not doing enough to provide social housing.

In a hard-hitting statement Nama said Focus Ireland had rejected every one of the 136 properties it has been offered by the state agency in Dublin, Cork and Kildare.

"The agency is fully committed to playing its part in providing homes for people who need them. But it is important that the social housing debate is informed by facts," a Nama spokesman said in a statement.

He was responding to comments by Focus Ireland chief executive Joyce Loughnan, who said Nama had failed to deliver on a promise to make 2,000 housing units available, despite controlling as many as 10,000 residential properties in Ireland.

But in a strongly worded response Nama said it had made twice that number of houses and apartments available for social housing – offering 4,000 properties to local authorities and housing agencies. Of those, half have been identified as "acceptable" for social housing.

The rest of the properties are understood to be unsuitable largely because of their location – either in places where there is already a high level of social housing, or areas where there is no demand for homes.

In addition to the properties rejected by Focus Ireland, Nama said it facilitated the sale of apartments in Limerick city centre to the charity earlier this year and is in negotiations for a potential sale of an additional 19 homes in Co Kilkenny.

A further 72 Nama properties have been floated as potentially suitable, some as recently as last week, the agency said.

It is not the first time Nama has come under fire for not doing enough about the issue of homelessness, but the agency shot back this week.

"The facts, as outlined above, are known to Focus Ireland having been pointed out to them on numerous occasions in the past," the Nama spokesman said.

And by rattling off a list of accommodation previously offered to housing agencies, Nama sought to shift the focus for any failure to deliver homes to struggling people back on to local authorities and charities.

While Nama has offered 4,000 properties to housing authorities, fewer than 500 have actually been taken over and put to use.

The future of around another 1,400 is still under discussion.

Sunday Independent

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