TDs are told housing plans must be 'off balance sheet'
Published 01/06/2016 | 02:30
Treasury chiefs are focussed on finding 'off balance sheet' solutions to the housing crisis, including student accommodation schemes, public-private partnerships (PPPs) and funding for infrastructure.
National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) chief executive Conor O'Kelly told TDs that Finance Minister Michael Noonan had asked his organisation to consider how it could prioritise housing and make an impact.
Mr O'Kelly said the €7.9bn Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) - of which €2.4bn has already been invested - will be the focus of how it might do this. He said there were already several residential housing investments, including a company called Activate, which has a €500m fund, of which €325m came from the ISIF.
He also brought up a €54m ISIF investment in student accommodation at Dublin City University, which will free up houses currently being rented by students.
The NTMA wants to set up a fund for regenerating urban areas, along the lines of a scheme already under way in conjunction with Kilkenny Co Council.
Mr O'Kelly also told the Dáil's Housing Committee that the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) was involved with a PPP that will build 1,500 social housing units. However, the first 500 houses won't be built until 2019 or 2020.
Another proposal the NTMA is examining is an infrastructure fund to open up development sites. Mr O'Kelly said 50,000 units could be built in Dublin if roads and sewerage was provided.
Department of Finance official Eoin Dorgan said off-balance-sheet investments were "absolutely vital", given European fiscal rules.
Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin suggested that ISIF cash could be used to develop State-owned lands for developments, consisting of 30pc social housing, 30pc cost-rental accommodation and 30pc affordable housing.
He said this approach would be off balance sheet as there would be a commercial return from the affordable units.
Mr O'Kelly said that the NTMA was exploring such options.