Saturday 21 April 2018

Councils reject 4,000 social housing units offered by Nama

Labour TD Joe Costello
Labour TD Joe Costello
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Local authorities around the country have turned down offers of thousands of properties from Nama, despite the unprecedented housing shortage.

Nama says it offered 6,500 properties to councils for use as social housing, but only 2,500 of these were accepted.

The agency said in many cases councils said the units were "in the wrong location" or in areas where there was already a high density of social housing.

The revelation came after members of the Dáil Public Account's Committee (PAC) quizzed Nama officials about what they had done to help tackle the housing crisis.

Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh said the properties had been offered to 31 local authorities since 2011.

Just 38pc of the properties offered by Nama to local authorities in Dublin were accepted.

Dublin City Council was offered 828 properties and agreed to take 399.

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council was offered 321 and took 132. Some 270 were offered to Fingal County Council, with 105 being accepted, while South Dublin County was offered 581 and took up 121.

In addition to the properties offered, Mr McDonagh said Nama had 7,600 acres of land which could be used for housing development. Most of it is in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick.

Under questioning from Fine Gael TD Patrick O'Donovan, Mr McDonagh said the units offered were either fully complete or close to completion.

"We make them available and they decide whether they want them or not," said Mr McDonagh.

He said that often an arrangement was entered into for the councils to lease the properties rather than buy them.

"The main reason [for not taking the units] seems to be sometimes the unit is in the wrong location or they would say they already have too high a concentration of social housing units in that particular area," said Mr McDonagh.

The 4,000 units which were rejected were no longer available, Mr McDonagh said. "The reality is those 4,000 units that weren't taken [by the local authorities] have been taken up by the private sector," he said.

Mr McDonagh said there were 8,900 residential units left in the Nama portfolio at present.

Another PAC member, Labour TD Joe Costello, described the situation as "a scandal".

"Local authorities must answer for their failure to address the accommodation shortage given that they are the statutory housing authorities and were offered the resources to provide the housing for those in dire need," he said.

Irish Independent

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