Social homes delivered by approved housing bodies down 20%

Number of new supported housing homes built for special need groups down about 30%

The number of social homes delivered by approved housing bodies (AHBs) fell by almost 20 per cent last year as the sector grappled with challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) published its Housing Association Activity Report 2020 on Thursday. It shows that Ireland’s housing association sector provided 3,312 social homes in 2020, 42 per cent of the national total.

However, the number of social homes provided last year is down from 4,127 in 2019, a decline of almost 20 per cent.

Furthermore, the number of new supported housing homes built in 2020 for special need groups including homeless households, for older people and people with disabilities, was down almost 30 per cent.


There were 404 new supported housing homes built last year for these cohorts, as against 570 in 2019.

On a positive note, the number of homeless individuals housed under the Housing First initiative increased by almost a third from 338 in 2019 to 449 last year.

The Housing First model aims to provide a person sleeping rough, or someone who has been long-term homeless, with their own secure accommodation as well as access to intensive and specialised support services.

Of the homes delivered last year, 75 per cent were new-build social homes provided by ICSH members to households on the social housing waiting list, 14 per cent were acquisitions, and 11 per cent were leased homes.

The ICSH represents approximately 270 member organisations that manage 35,000 homes and house 90,000 people including families on low incomes, older people, people with disabilities, and households experiencing homelessness.

The AHB sector now manages more than 43,000 homes with approximately 10 per cent added to the stock each year.

The report says that of the 33,815 social homes in the pipeline, by end 2020, more than 15,500 will be delivered by approved housing bodies.

Mortgage to rent

The report also notes that €1 billion loan finance was approved by the Housing Finance Agency in 2020 for the provision of 4,515 homes.

Some 363 homes were completed in 2020 under mortgage to rent, and, to date, 1,179 applications have been completed and 1,079 are actively being progressed.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said the past 12 months has meant “extremely challenging conditions in the delivery of housing”.

“The unprecedented nature of the global pandemic has led to major disruption of the construction sector and . . . we still face considerable challenges as we emerge from this difficult period,” he said.

ICSH chief executive Donal McManus said: “With a current construction pipeline of 15,651 social homes, our member organisations are not going to let the Covid-19 pandemic get in the way of a major AHB social housing growth programme in response to the housing crisis.”

The group also called for the Land Development Agency to assemble sites in public ownership in the short term and lands in private ownership over the longer term to significantly increase the social housing stock and deliver greater numbers of cost rental homes.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter