NAMA under fire for failing to help house poor people
Published 13/09/2011 | 05:00
ENVIRONMENT Minister Phil Hogan is embroiled in a row with NAMA over whether the agency is doing enough to house poor people.
The minister said he was unhappy with the toxic assets agency for not selling properties under its control at a discount to his department.
These could then be used to house those on council housing waiting lists.
But the department was unable yesterday to identify specific areas in need of social housing where NAMA had a stockpile of suitable properties.
And NAMA has no specific legal obligation to help to resolve the social housing problem.
The law setting up the agency says that one of its purposes is "to contribute to the social and economic development of the State".
But there is no mention about handing over specific numbers of properties for social housing.
So far just 58 apartments in the Beacon South Quarter, Sandyford, which had been in NAMA, have been purchased by a voluntary housing group at a discounted rate for social and affordable housing.
Mr Hogan said NAMA was more interested in making a profit on large-scale developments rather than fulfilling the "social dividend" set down in its business plan.
"We have spoken to them but with very little success," said Mr Hogan, who was speaking at the National Housing Conference in Dublin Castle yesterday.
"The Minister for Finance and the Government generally will have to engage with the view to getting a better outcome.
"We are finding it very difficult to get sufficient properties for people on the housing list."
Mr Hogan said that " thousands and thousands" of extra people had joined this list.
But last night a NAMA spokesman told the Irish Independent that promoting social housing was a key priority for the agency and that it was working "very closely" with the department in this regard.
There are about 100,000 households on the local authority housing waiting list, up from 58,000 in 2008.
Those who get social housing pay a fixed rent to a local authority -- which then takes responsibility for the maintenance of the property.