Housing Finance Agency approves record €1bn in loans

Agency’s annual report shows significant activity despite Covid

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien.

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien.

 

The Housing Finance Agency (HFA) approved a record €1 billion in loans to approved housing bodies (AHBs) for the provision of 4,500 homes last year, according to its annual report.

The agency offers below-market-rate loans for housing of 2.25 per cent to AHBs, local authorities and higher education institutions.

Total loans advanced to various bodies last year fell by 20 per cent to €545 million but the HFA described this as strong in the context of Covid delays and restrictions.

The group’s total loan book is now €5.2 billion. About 70 per cent of its lending is to AHBs, including Clúid, Tuath and Respond, for social, affordable and cost-rental schemes.

Loans of €49 million were also advanced to three higher education institutions in 2020 for the provision of student accommodation.

The agency’s remit has been extended under the Government’s recently announced Housing for All plan. The plan will initially be funded over the next five years to the tune of €20.5 billion, including €12 billion in direct exchequer funding and €5 billion provided through the HFA.

Loan diversity

“The HFA continues to grow its loan book in both the number of loans advanced as well as in diversity of loan types,” it said.

“The restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic caused a lagging effect on the number of AHB housing schemes completed in 2020.”

Speaking at the launch of the report, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said the record loan approvals to AHBs last year “demonstrated the positive impact the HFA was having on the housing landscape”.

“The expansion in the HFA’s portfolio of lending signals a very positive development for students and private renters alike, which is already making real difference,” he said.

Mr O’Brien said the Government’s housing strategy recognised the scale and depth of the housing crisis.

“The Housing for All is the largest and single biggest intervention that any government has made in housing in the history of the State,” he said.