€300m social housing boost 'to create building jobs'
The Government hopes a massive €300m investment in social housing will create hundreds of jobs in the construction sector.
The first-of-its-kind project, which is backed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), will create an additional 2,000 homes for people on social housing lists. The investment will also come as a major boost to the construction sector which was all but wiped out by the property crash. The money will be given to 10 approved housing agencies which will in turn put housing projects out to tender.
The majority of the fund will be invested in Dublin housing schemes but other areas of the country will also benefit from the finance.
There will be a focus on refurbishing derelict social housing units in the city but there will also be funding for new developments.
Environment Minister Alan Kelly said the project means the Government will be able to meet the growing demand for social housing.
"I strongly urge the boards and management of approved housing bodies to grasp this opportunity and access this finance in order to help achieve the challenging targets set out in the social housing strategy," Mr Kelly said.
The Government has pledged to create 35,000 social housing units in the next six years.
The EIB loaned the country €150m which was matched with State funding and the fund will be managed by the Housing Finance Agency.
The EIB is a not-for-profit bank which lends to EU member states and Ireland has 25 years to repay this loan. It is also understood EIB is exploring other opportunities for investment in the area of social housing in Ireland.
EIB vice-president Jonathan Taylor said the investment will provide better homes and reduced energy costs, and work for construction firms. "Investment in housing is essential for family life and sustainable communities and we look forward to further support for the sector in Ireland in the years to come," he said.
The approved agencies are Cluid Housing Association, Oaklee Housing Trust, Tuath Housing Association, The Iveagh Trust, NABCO, Focus Ireland, Circle Housing Association, Clanmil Housing Association, Carlow Tintean Housing Association and Focus Ireland.