MINISTER for Housing Jan O’Sullivan has instructed local authorities to re-examine whether properties in the Nama portfolio can be used for social housing.
To date, just nine Nama houses and apartments in Limerick City and County have been signed over for social housing purposes in two schemes run by Cluid and Focus Ireland housing associations.
But in figures she released to the Dail last week, Minister O’Sullivan outlined that a further 128 Nama units had been identified (by Nama itself) as potentially suitable for social housing in the Limerick area and, of these, 71 have been deemed suitable for social housing by Limerick City and County Council.
Minister O’Sullivan said she did not have details of which parts of Limerick City or County these units were being or could be delivered as “Nama tend to keep those details confidential”.
But delivering social housing units through Nama in Limerick and across the country was something she was keen to see accelerated as long as the units are suitable and there isn’t an over-concentration of social housing in any one area.
“We want to get as many as possible for social housing as long as they are suitable,” she told the Chronicle.
“And we want a social mix. That is part of the policy; not to have too many social housing units in any one area for good policy reasons in terms of social mix.”
Nama, she said, had originally identified around 4,000 properties around the country as potentially suitable for social housing purposes. Councils had come back and deemed around half as suitable to get people of the housing waiting lists.
“But time has moved on and it may be that some of those originally considered unsuitable might well be suitable now, with growing demand for social housing and families who are at risk of losing their homes because they can’t pay their mortgage and so on,” Minister O’Sullivan said. “Some of the units that were originally considered unsuitable might be suitable now so I have asked the local authorities to go back and look again”.
She said that in Limerick and around the country, the housing units would be provided by voluntary housing associations rather than directly by local authorities.