Monday 27 February 2017

Two-thirds of Nama units offered for social housing are declined

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh said that one of the biggest issues was a policy limiting the number of social housing units in any one area to 20pc of the total Photo: PA
Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh said that one of the biggest issues was a policy limiting the number of social housing units in any one area to 20pc of the total Photo: PA

Two thirds of Nama units being offered for social housing are being turned down.

And the agency is "scouring" its portfolio to find possible social housing units at the request of new minister Simon Coveney.

The agency's chairman, Frank Daly, addressed TDs on the Dáil's housing and homelessness committee about its role. Nama has committed to providing 20,000 residential units by 2020. Mr Daly said Nama had previously offered local authorities 6,700 units for social housing but had been asked for just 2,500 of these.

"We are continually scouring our portfolio for more units that could be used for social housing," Mr Daly told TDs.

"We had a meeting with the Minister for Housing [Mr Coveney] which was very useful. He has encouraged us to look again at our portfolio...

"We have said we will do that and we are confident that we can come up with several hundred additional units which we will offer to the local authorities as soon as we possibly can."

He said of two million homes in Ireland, just 6,000 are in the hands of Nama debtors and that nearly all of them are occupied.

"Some people would have us believe there are easy answers to all of Ireland's housing problems. I am sure that this committee ... knows that is not the case," Mr Daly said.

Fine Gael's Fergus O'Dowd pointed out that in a number of cases local authorities that declined the most units are those that have the greatest demand, including Dublin councils.

He said it "makes no sense" and asked why it was happening.

Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh said that one of the biggest issues was a policy limiting the number of social housing units in any one area to 20pc of the total. "That's not acceptable," Mr O'Dowd replied. "How in the name of God can local authorities turn down a roof for families? That is what they are doing."

Mr McDonagh said Nama asks their debtors to hold units back while waiting for an answer from local authorities.

He said when they are turned down the properties are "snapped up" in the private rental sector.

But Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin, a former South Dublin councillor, said that there are constraints imposed by central government.

He gave the example of 591 units Nama offered to his former council, with almost 500 of them in one location, and said that this was not allowed for under government policy.

He also accused Nama of being "more driven by commercial calculations" than its remit for contributing to the "social and economic development" of the State.

Irish Independent

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