Thursday 8 December 2016

'Nama is playing a part in solving homelessness' - Minister Kelly

Published 17/11/2015 | 02:30

Tánaiste Joan Burton visits the Blanchardstown development. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Tánaiste Joan Burton visits the Blanchardstown development. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Tánaiste Joan Burton visits the Blanchardstown development. Photo: Steve Humphreys

NAMA cannot be forced to focus exclusively on providing much-needed social housing because it was set up with a "commercial mandate", Environment Minister Alan Kelly has said.

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The agency is scheduled to build more than 20,000 homes by 2020 - but 90pc of these will be sold on the open market.

The issue was raised by Focus Ireland at a homelessness forum hosted by the minister in the Department of Environment yesterday.

However, the charity's director of advocacy, Mike Allen, said afterwards: "The only response we got was that it's not in the constitution of Nama. If that's the case, then this Government has the majority in the house to change the constitution of Nama."

Mr Kelly said he was satisfied with Nama's role in helping to alleviate the housing crisis. However, he said people need to accept that there is a "time lag" before the supply problem can be resolved.

He also refused to accept that landlords are likely to exit the market because of the recently-announced rent certainty measures.

Estate agents Sherry Fitzgerald said approximately 13,500 rental units have disappeared from the rental market this year as investors no longer find it financially viable.

But Mr Kelly said: "I think anybody who intends to leave the rental market in this space where the yields are so high, I'm not sure it would make very good business sense."

Niamh Randell of the Simon Community said: "We urgently need to move away from emergency-led responses. We can't just keep offering people short-term solutions."

Tánaiste Joan Burton yesterday visited a development in Blanchardstown, where the first of 44 new social housing units have been made available.

She said the Government is "concerned that houses are not coming on stream fast enough", but added that "very solid progress" is being made.

Meanwhile, the Peter McVerry Trust said there was a 24pc increase in the number of people using its services last year. The homeless and housing charity provided support to 4,460 people in 2014 and expects this figure to rise to 7,500 this year.

Speaking ahead of the launch of its annual report today, CEO Pat Doyle warned rents will rise sharply unless new legislation is introduced immediately.

"We cannot afford a situation where politicians feel they have done enough to respond to this emergency. The numbers in need of our help are staggering...We can't afford for thoughts of a General Election to deflect from the huge challenges that exist."

Irish Independent

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