Funding for housing must be made accessible for approved bodies – Ellis
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has called on the Minister to make it easier and faster for established approved housing bodies to access funding from the Housing Finance Agency. He said that a number of Approved Housing Bodies had told him that they found that applying for funding for social housing projects was more difficult and protracted than necessary and had forced them to seek funding from commercial banks instead. He made his comments in advance of a Topical Issue debate which he has secured this evening in the Dáil.
Deputy Ellis said;
"Right now we have a major crisis in terms of the shortage of affordable rental housing for low paid people and those out of work. It has driven up rents and this has increased homelessness which in the end is extremely costly to the public purse.
“The Housing Finance Agency (HFA) is in place to source funding for social housing projects by Approved Housing Bodies like Focus Ireland, Respond, Simon or the many other excellent groups that are seeking to build homes now. It was set up by the state to help these bodies to fund projects and has done so, but many groups in the absence of initiatives like the Capital Assistance Scheme, are finding the HFA's application process prohibitive. It has done great work in the past but it needs to reform some practices in order for it to be fit for the challenge today.
“This is not risky business. We are talking about providing homes in a time of unrivalled demand and applicants that have proven themselves as diligent and responsible housing providers. Unfortunately 120 page applications and protracted processes have led some groups going to commercial banks which, despite improved regulations in the wake of the economic crisis, have proven easier to get credit from if a little more expensive in terms of interest.
“It is in the interest of the government for the HFA to be lending the European Investment Bank funding they have received to tackle the housing crisis. We need the Minister to work with the HFA, to look at how commercial banks are lending and to find a middle ground which will be responsible but also accessible."