Co-op Housing Ireland sets record with 450 social homes delivered in 2020

Housing body expects to provide more than 500 this year despite pandemic delays

More than 450 homes were delivered in 2020 by Co-operative Housing Ireland (CHI), a record number for the organisation which provides social homes using a co-op model.

Despite delays caused by the Covid-19 and ongoing building supply shortages, CHI increased its output by 22 per cent last year, with 454 homes, and expects to deliver more than 500 homes this year.

The organisation operates differently from other social housing bodies. Residents are still nominated by their local authority, dependent on their place on the social housing waiting list, but become shareholders in the co-operative for a one-off fee of €80, which entitles them to vote on how their estate operates.

“Our residents are members, rather than tenants, and they get involved in the management of their estates and in the life of the community. Seven of our board members are also residents,” Padraic Clancy, CHI head of new business, said.


As a result, rent arrears are particularly low for social housing. “Our arrears are at about 2.2 per cent, considerably lower than local authorities, and less than the mean average for approved housing bodies,” he said.

“There is an unfair and unwarranted identity associated with social housing. It would be preferable to use the term public housing. Over 85 per cent of our members are working, they just can’t afford to purchase or can’t afford market rents, and there are a lot more people who are going to come into that bracket.”

The co-op's newest estate, a development of 80 homes in Loughlion Green in Kildare, was completed last week and was officially opened on Wednesday by Minister of State for Local Government and Planning Peter Burke.

Transformed life

Patrycja Mordon, who became one of the estate’s first residents last March, said the security it has provided has transformed her life.

“I have been living in Kildare since I was 18, I came to Ireland from Poland about 16 years ago, and for a foreign person, I am very lucky that I’ve only changed home three times since I’ve lived in Ireland.”

Working locally in recruitment, she was happy to rent in Kildare town where her two children, Sara (14) and Angelo (9), are in school. However, her landlady decided to sell and despite having nine month’s notice, she was unable to find anywhere to rent in Kildare town.

"I eventually had to leave town in summer 2020 and rent a house in Newbridge. I wanted to keep the kids in their schools here in Kildare. Their whole lives were here, everyone they knew, their friends and their father. My expenses were doubled because I was commuting so I had to increase my workload," she said. "It was more difficult to arrange everyday things and meet-ups because we were not living as close to the children's father anymore too."

When the offer of the house in Loughlion Green was made through the council last December, the relief was immense, she said.

“I was at work at the time and I just burst into tears. I hadn’t realised how much I was carrying on my shoulders. The house is modern, it’s A-rated so it’s really warm and now I feel I have certainty to get on with life.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times