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Voluntary Housing Bodies

Voluntary Housing involves the provision of rented accommodation, (including communal facilities where appropriate) by Voluntary Housing bodies, which have been approved by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government under section 6 (6) of the Housing Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1992

Accommodation can be designed to cater for those with special needs i.e. elderly, disabled, homeless etc, and families.

Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS)

This scheme is designed for the provision of rented accommodation for those with special needs i.e. elderly, disabled, homeless etc. The Council may advance loans to approved bodies to cover 95% of the cost of provision of these units subject to a maximum of €110,000 per unit for one and two person units and €135,000 per unit for larger family type units. Additional funding of €40,000 per unit is also available towards site purchase and development. These loans are not repayable provided that the accommodation continues to be let to eligible categories of persons and is properly maintained. 100% funding subject to the above limits is now available. In this case 100% of lettings must be made to persons assessed, by a local authority, as in need of housing.

Leasing

Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) will now be able to procure units under the leasing initiative. This may be done in one of two ways:

  • The AHB may lease units from a private owner/developer and make them available to persons assessed as being in need of social housing support
  • The AHB may undertake the purchase/construction of units using private finance, which will then be made available to meet housing needs.

In both cases the lease payments will be based on a comparison to local market rent. Indicative costing for these elements suggest a discount of at least 20% below market should be sought when negotiating lease payments. Where proposals are approved, the Department will enter into a payment and availability agreement directly with the approved body.

The main features of the new arrangements are as follows;

  • The approved housing body will enter into a lease arrangement with a property owner for periods of between 10 – 20 years;
  • The leases will be for unfurnished dwellings;
  • The lease type will be full ‘repair and insure’ lease with the housing body responsible for insurance, maintenance and upkeep;
  • The accommodation leased will be used to house persons on the local authority’s waiting list.

Communal facility grants

These grants are in addition to the grants already approved under the Capital Assistance Scheme by the Minister for the provision, by approved voluntary housing bodies, of accommodation for elderly, homeless and persons with disabilities.

The financial assistance covers up to 90% of the costs of providing the facilities, or €7,500 for each unit of living accommodation, whichever is the lesser. The works covered include the provision of communal dining/kitchen facilities, laundries, sitting/activity areas and other facilities reasonably required to improve the residents' living conditions. Where practicable and compatible with the needs of the residents of the approved body's housing accommodation the communal facilities should also be used to serve local community needs (e.g. meals-on-wheels, recreation and social services etc.)

Irish Council for Social Housing

The Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) is the national social housing federation representing housing associations in Ireland. They can assist with details on how to become an approved body for the purposes of voluntary housing as well as ongoing assistance with governance etc. The ICSH can be contacted as follows:

Irish Council for Social Housing,
50 Merrion Square East,
Dublin 2, Ireland

Tel: 01 661 8334 || Fax: 01 661 0320 || E mail: info@icsh.ie