The current models for delivering social and cost-rental homes are proving “increasingly challenging” due to inflation, one of the country’s largest approved housing bodies has said.
Respond, which provides affordable housing for people who cannot afford to pay private sector rents or buy their own homes, currently has 1,422 new social and cost-rental homes in construction across the country.
The organisation delivered 624 new social and affordable homes last year and started construction on 778 homes, bringing the number of properties it owns or manages to more than 6,500, its 2021 annual report said.
Niamh Randall, spokeswoman for Respond, said the organisation has continued its work despite recent challenges in the construction sector, and the current building programme has a value of more than €1 billion.
“However, the current models for delivering social and cost-rental homes are proving increasingly challenging in light of construction cost inflation, which has seen significant increases in the last 12 months, along with the recent increases in interest rates,” she said.
“We are working with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage on a welcome review of the structure and operation of Capital Advanced Leasing Facility (CALF) funding scheme. The CALF scheme enables approved housing bodies like Respond to deliver social homes.”
Declan Dunne, chief executive of Respond, said the multi-annual funding announced through the Government’s Housing for All programme was a “game changer” for its work and planning.
“It’s allowed us to have 1,422 homes in construction today. And that’s not insignificant but we know it’s not enough. We know the demand and the need is so much greater,” he said.
“It’s blooming hard, it’s difficult. There’s no shortage of slaps in the face we seem to get, whether it’s Covid or whether it’s cost or whatever it might be.”
Speaking at the launch of Respond’s 2021 annual report on Tuesday, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said changes had been made to the schemes for social and cost-rental homes to ensure their viability.
“On the back of those changes, we got some new cost-rental schemes in that wouldn’t have come in. There’s some pressure on the funding side, but we’ve changed the cost-rental equity loan model and we’re also allowing more upfront costs,” he said.
“I think the changes that we made will unlock a lot of the difficulties, if not all of them.”
Mr O’Brien also revealed that almost 500 eligibility certs have been issued to prospective homebuyers through its shared equity scheme which opened in July.
Respond’s annual report said 92 families were supported through its refugee resettlement programme which included orientation to Irish society, psychotherapy and counselling, and employment and financial supports.
A total of 319 children were supported through its emergency homeless accommodation, of whom 200 were aged five or below.
The organisation’s day care for older people assisted 168 individuals, while almost 3,000 meals on wheels were delivered.