107 actions ‘to facilitate disabled people to live independently’
18th July 2023
Departmental priorities for 2023
18th July 2023

The Housing Agency and Housing for All: Perspectives on progress

Founded in 2012, The Housing Agency is a state-funded body of housing specialists, with a strong focus on problem-solving. The Housing Agency supports the development of sustainable communities across Ireland.

We work mainly with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, local authorities, approved housing bodies, and other state agencies. Our strategic plan has been framed in the context of supporting the Government’s Housing Plan, Housing for All. There has been significant progress on the schemes administered by The Housing Agency, which has supported Housing for All through its four pathways:

Supporting home ownership and increasing affordability

Cost rental is a new housing tenure in Ireland, where rents are based on the cost of provision rather than market rents. The provision of Cost Rental homes is funded by the Government through fixed rate loans provided by the Housing Finance Agency and the Cost Rental Equity Loan (CREL), provided by The Housing Agency for up to 45 per cent of the capital costs. CREL is a low-cost loan at 1 per cent simple interest that is not repayable under the end of the 40 year loan period. The first schemes were launched in 2021 at Taylor Hill, Balbriggan and in 2022 at Woodside, Enniskerry Road. A total of 607 cost rental homes (including 557 using CREL loans) have been delivered since the launch of Housing for All, with a further 528 scheduled for delivery up to 2024.

The Affordable Housing Fund (AHF) was introduced by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) to enable Local Authorities access funding to assist them to deliver affordable purchase and cost rental homes. The Housing Agency carries out an initial assessment of applications received from Local Authorities on behalf of the Department. In December 2022, the AHF was increased from a maximum of €100,000 per unit to €150,000 per unit for cost rental homes. To date over €249 million has been approved to assist in the delivery of 3,164 affordable homes from 2022 to 2027 under 52 schemes across 15 Local Authorities. A further 14 applications for assistance under the Fund are currently under consideration.

Eradicating homelessness, increasing social housing delivery, and supporting social inclusion

The Housing Agency plays a central administration role in the Government’s national Housing First programme. This programme targets individuals with a history of rough sleeping and long-term use of emergency homeless accommodation who also have complex needs around mental health and substance use. It provides them with direct access to a permanent home, together with intensive wraparound tenancy and health supports delivered mainly in the person’s home. It is over 85 per cent successful in ending homelessness for people who are long-term homeless.

Ireland’s Housing First programme is based on the Pathways Housing First programme, conceived by Sam Tsemberis in New York in the early 1990s. The Housing First National Office was established in the Housing Agency in March 2022 with Rob Lowth as National Director. It supports the delivery of Housing First by local authorities, HSE and NGOs and it monitors the achievement of the Housing First targets. A total of 879 Housing First tenancies were delivered by the end of April 2023.

The Housing Agency is playing a key role in the new Cost Rental Tenant in-Situ (CRTiS) Scheme which has been in effect since 1 April 2023 to support tenants at risk of homelessness. The scheme is available where a tenant household faced the termination of their tenancy due to the landlord’s intention to sell the property.

The scheme is available if the tenant household:

  • is not able to purchase the property from the landlord;
  • is at risk of homelessness;
  • is not eligible for, or currently in receipt of social housing supports (that is in receipt of HAP or in the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS)); or
  • has a net annual income of below €53,000.

If a tenant has a query about the Cost Rental Tenant in-Situ or the other measures introduced to assist tenants they can contact The Housing Agency by phone at 1800 000 024 or via email at tenantinsitu@housingagency.ie.

In November 2022, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage launched the Youth Homelessness Strategy 2023-2025. The strategy sets out 27 distinct actions to prevent young people aged between 18 and 24 from entering homelessness, to improve the experiences of young people in emergency accommodation and to assist young people to exit homelessness.

The Housing Agency has been tasked with producing a guide setting out supports for young people exiting homelessness. The guide will bring together information on housing supports, social welfare benefits, financial supports, education, training and employment options and healthcare supports. In addition, The Housing Agency will be assisting the DHLGH with developing a pilot model of a housing-led intervention, Supported Housing for Youth (SHY).

The SHY model will provide a range of accommodation options including shared accommodation and one-bed units with wrap around supports targeted to the specific needs of each person.

In March 2023, The Housing Agency published the Summary of Social Housing Assessments 2022, which brings together information provided by local authorities on households in their functional area that are qualified for social housing support but whose social housing need is not currently being met. The report found that the total number of qualified households for 2022 was 57,842. This is a decrease of 1,405 from 2021 and a decrease of 57 per cent from 2016 (91,600) when the series commenced.

Increasing new housing supply

The Croí Cónaithe (Cities) Scheme is administered and managed by The Housing Agency. It is a new fund which aims to help kick-start the construction of apartment schemes and support the building of up to 5,000 apartments for sale to owner-occupiers by 2026. A key national policy objective is to build more homes within our cities and towns, resulting in compact growth and vibrant, liveable cities. The scheme aims to bridge the current ‘viability gap’ between the cost of building apartments and the open market sale price. It specifically targets un-commenced apartment developments in our cities. The Croí Cónaithe Cities Scheme also has the benefit of operating in conjunction with other initiatives such as the First Home Scheme and the Help to Buy (HTB) scheme.

Following an ‘open book’ assessment of proposals, the Housing Agency will enter into its first agreements with developers very shortly. In the summer of 2023, the Croí Cónaithe Cities Scheme will advertise for a second call targeting the activation of existing planning permissions for apartment developments over four-storeys.

More information can be found at: www.housingagency.ie/CroiConaitheCities

The Payment and Availability (P&A) and Capital Advanced Leasing Facility (CALF) funding model has been revised following a review carried out in response to a commitment in Housing for All. This is the main funding scheme used by the Approved Housing Body (AHB) sector to provide social housing. The revised model addresses financial viability issues in rural areas and will help the sector overcome challenges caused by construction inflation and interest rate rises. The Housing Agency’s AHB Services Unit assists AHBs with P&A-CALF project queries and carries out financial appraisals of funding applications from AHBs on behalf of the Department. In the period since September 2021, the team has assessed applications for P&A-CALF funding for new projects to deliver more than 5,200 homes.

The Housing for All plan makes provision for innovations to improve, support and accelerate delivery of housing. In support of this strategy, The Housing Agency Procurement and Delivery Unit will supply technical services and supports in modern methods of construction. It has also developed a Guide for use of PW-CF2 Public Works Contract for Building Works Designed by the Contractor. This guidance document encourages the use of Modern Methods of Construction through the use of Capital Works Management Framework.

Addressing vacancy and efficient use of existing stock

The Housing Agency has received funding from the European Commission under the Technical Support Instrument (TSI) for a reform support project titled ‘Renovation Wave – Advancing retrofitting in multi-apartment buildings’. The project will commence in Q3 2023 and aims to increase energy performance of the Irish multi-unit developments building stock due to retrofitting. The project intends to establish effective models in Ireland for the advancement of whole-of-building retrofitting in multi-unit developments and create a high level of awareness of the models and frameworks across a wide range of stakeholders.

The Housing Agency has a role in addressing vacancy through our central advisory service on compulsory purchase orders and providing advice to local authorities on the Town Centre First programme, which aims to combat vacancy and dereliction in towns and villages across Ireland. The Housing Agency is also involved in the administration of the Repair and Lease scheme, which aims to bring properties back into use for social housing purposes, and 380 units have been delivered under the scheme to date.

For more information, contact
The Housing Agency at:
T: 01 656 4100
E: info@housingagency.ie
W: www.housingagency.ie
Twitter: @HousingAgencyIE
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/housing