The investment in social housing totalling €405m (£347m) is under a new initiative jointly financed with the Housing Finance Agency (HFA).
Under the new initiative, €200m of new financing from the EIB will be matched by the Housing Finance Agency to provide €405m for new lending to support investment to upgrade social housing and improve energy efficiency. By accessing EIB funding, the Housing Finance Agency will be able to offer approved housing bodies long-term finance at competitive rates. The new social housing investment scheme is supported by a guarantee from the minister of finance.
The European Investment Bank also confirmed expected future lending for social housing investment under a dedicated public-private partnership (PPP) financing structure to be announced in the coming months. This will enable international investors to back construction of social housing in the country for the first time.
The largest-ever EIB support for social housing in Ireland was formally announced during an event at the recently completed Thornwood development at Beaumont in Dublin. Using funding from a previous HFA and EIB social housing initiative, housing association Túath has constructed 68 new energy-efficient homes at the Thornwood site.
The new €405m initiative follows a €300m social housing lending programme agreed between the EIB and HFA in December 2014. This supported construction of 1,302 new homes and retrofitting at 550 properties by eight different approved housing bodies.
Minister for housing, planning, community and local government Simon Coveney said: “This initiative represents a significant combined effort from a number of critical partners in addressing what is the biggest social policy challenge we are currently facing as a country. It brings together the European Investment Bank, the Housing Finance Agency, Approved Housing Bodies, local authorities and the construction sector. In these times of almost unprecedented demand for housing, this new funding mechanism shows a flexibility and imagination in delivering new and improved social housing.”
EIB vice president Andrew McDowell added: “The European Investment Bank is pleased to confirm our largest-ever backing for social housing investment in Ireland that demonstrates our firm commitment to supporting transformational investment to increase the number of affordable homes and cut heating bills in existing properties across Europe. The ongoing partnership with HFA has already benefited thousands of families, as well as construction firms and suppliers here in Dublin and across the country. Reflecting the hard work of colleagues at HFA, government departments and leading housing associations such as Túath, Ireland now represents the fourth largest recipient of long-term low-cost EIB financing for social housing anywhere in Europe.”
HFA chief executive officer Barry O’Leary said: “Following the success of our previous agreement, which is now fully committed towards financing new social housing projects, I am very pleased to continue our close working relationship with the EIB. This significant new funding will help us support the ongoing strong momentum in new activity seen in 2016 and enable the continued provision of excellent value long-term fixed rate funding to approved housing bodies and local authorities.”