NAMA 'disappointed' over social housing take-up by local authorities

Sunday 01 December 2013 22.54
NAMA 'disappointed' over low demand for social housing units despite criticism
NAMA 'disappointed' over low demand for social housing units despite criticism

A senior NAMA official has said the agency is "disappointed" at the level of demand from local authorities for the 4,500 homes it has made available for social housing.

Speaking to RTÉ's This Week programme, NAMA relationship manager Martin Whelan said the agency had hoped there would have been greater take-up of the properties.

He was reacting to comments earlier in the week from homeless housing agency Focus Ireland, which criticised the slow pace at which properties owned by NAMA are being transferred to housing charities.

Focus Ireland chief executive Joyce Loughnan said the system was complex and overly bureaucratic and she said her charity had not received any of the 2,000 units promised by NAMA over two years ago.

However, Mr Whelan said where local authorities and housing agencies had completed the requisite lease or sale documents, there was "no delay".

Demand had been indicated for just 2,000 of the 4,500 units which NAMA has made available, he said.

"I suppose we are a bit disappointed. We would have liked to seen more of the houses taken up; more of the apartments taken up. Because ultimately it is about providing much needed houses and apartments," Mr Whelan said.

"We've made four and a half thousand homes available. We would like to see everyone one of those delivered for social housing." 

"We'll invest to make sure they're ready, they're in a proper state for people to live in them, to form communities within them, and, you know, if the local authorities, if anyone, wants to come back to NAMA and say we have a requirement for other houses that we haven't taken up, we'll make them available", Mr Whelan said.

He said that NAMA had made the properties available because it would like them to be used for social housing.

However, demand had been curtailed in some cases by local authority housing policy which capped the amount of social housing units in an estate, typically at around 20% of the total number of residential properties.

Mr Whelan said that it was an area which NAMA had put a "huge amount of work into", in terms of identifying the units, working with debtors and receivers and in establishing a stand-alone company to acquire the properties. 

He said that NAMA had invested around €10m finishing off properties to make them available for local authorities and housing agencies.