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Housing Finance Agency approved €1 billion in loans to approved housing bodies last year

Individual loans ranged from €17,000 to €43 million.

A scheme in Carrigaline, Co Cork, developed by Co-operative Housing Ireland received approval from the HFA for a loan to build 67 homes.
A scheme in Carrigaline, Co Cork, developed by Co-operative Housing Ireland received approval from the HFA for a loan to build 67 homes.
Image: HFA

OVER €1 billion in loans to approved housing bodies was approved by the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) for the provision of 4,526 homes, the agency revealed today.

The HFA provides finance to implement government housing policy, in particular the provision of social and affordable housing.

It raises finances on capital markets through the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and from European government-funded lenders such as the European Investment Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank. The agency then provides low-interest loans to approved housing bodies and local authorities for building projects or affordable home loans.

According to its annual report, launched today, despite Covid-19 related delays and site closures, loans of €549 million were advanced last year and already this year €410 million has been drawn down.

The average loan approved in 2020 increased to €5.3 million, from €4.4 million in 2019 and the average development approved in 2020 increased to 24 homes versus 21 homes in 2019.

There were 191 loans approved across 22 different counties, with individual loans ranging from €17,000 to €43 million. Some €290 million in loans was approved for 1,029 homes in Dublin.

Some of the projects that received financing from the HFA include:

  • North and East Housing Association’s Tooting Meadows housing development of 15
  • properties located on Scarlet Street, Drogheda, Co Louth.
  • Clúid Housing Association’s St. Mary’s Mansion development located in Dublin 1 which was completely refurbished and an additional two new floors were added to create 80 high specification, modern apartments and duplexes.
  • Co-operative Housing Ireland’s Brookhill development in Carrigaline, Co Cork, which consists of a mix of 67 A-rated detached, semi-detached and terraced homes. 
  • Respond Housing Association’s Ballaghderg development, which is located in Letterkenny, Co Donegal and consists of a mix of two, three and four bed houses 
  • Túath Housing Association’s Sraith Fhada scheme, located in Doughiska, Galway
  • City, which consists of twenty five two-bed apartments. The development had been lying incomplete for 12 years and the apartments have been completely refurbished providing quality, energy efficient homes for tenants

The agency said groundwork has commenced for the launch of the Cost Rental Equity Loan scheme with €93 million approved in Q1 2021 for the provision of 390 affordable rental homes in Dublin, Cork and Kildare.

The HFA’s lending to higher education institutions is also expected to expand to enable more colleges to build their own affordable student accommodation. Loans of €49.3 million were advanced to three higher education institutions last year.

Barry O’Leary, CEO of the HFA, said the agency has been able to deliver affordable and sustainable loans because it is “borrowing cheaply and lending cheaply”.

He said the majority of lending last year has been to approved housing bodies and 70% of the loans went to three bodies in particular; Clúid, Respond and Túath.

The HFA is committed to providing one quarter of the €20 billion needed for the government’s Housing for All plan and O’Leary said he was confident the HFA could “meet, if not exceed” the demands.

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He said there is scope in the near future to look at construction methods and in particular to explore factory-built models.

“We’s like to see a bit more going on in that area and there are possibly opportunities for joint work between agencies, local authorities and people who wish to advance these products,” he said.

Speaking at the launch today, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said the HFA was playing a key role in helping to delivery “real value for money solutions” in housing.

The minister said the government will “make real strides in tackling” the housing crisis in the short and medium through measures committed to in the Housing for All plan.

“We have the knowledge, we have the expertise and the ability, and we now have the finance, but most importantly we have the determination to make real strides for our people with the housing crisis and real solutions that are going to take effect and are taking effect now,” he said.

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