Specialist asset manger Gresham House Ireland has launched a €100m fund to finance the acquisition and construction by Approved Housing Bodies of new homes for social housing throughout Ireland.

The fund intends to raise capital from Irish credit unions and its investments are expected to finance 350 to 450 new social homes in the next two years.

The fund, known as the Gresham House Credit Union Income Fund, has been approved by the Central Bank and has been designed to meet the specific requirements of Ireland's 214 credit unions.

It seeks to provide an innovative way for these credit unions to invest part of their funding derived from members’ saving and generate an attractive return from a new investment asset class.

The fund will provide the community-focused credit unions with a mechanism to support Approved Housing Bodies, like-minded not-for-profit organisations, in the delivery of social housing throughout Ireland.

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Fiona O’Driscoll, Fund Manager with Gresham House Ireland, said, "This fund will match Approved Housing Bodies, who need long term loan capital on competitive terms, with credit unions who are looking for an attractive and secure home for their members’ savings.

"It has been developed to meet Ireland’s need for more homes for social housing; the needs of Approved Housing Bodies for diversified sources of competitive loan capital to build more homes; and the ambition of credit unions to contribute to the social housing needs of their members and others within the communities they are set up to serve," she said.

Similar funds already exist in Ireland.

This fund is something that credit unions have targeted, Ms O'Driscoll said, in terms of being able to use their members' funds to invest in social housing and provide homes in their communities.

"It's great for credit unions. A year ago they didn't have a single fund but now we're the third fund that will give them a very attractive investment opportunity," she added.