Offaly TD says NAMA should be used to tackle housing crisis
Offaly TD and Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Barry Cowen, has said the State should utilise NAMA to help deliver new social housing.
Deputy Cowen added that NAMA should be reconstituted by giving it an additional mandate to enable it to manage housing development on public owned sites on behalf of Local Authorities:
Deputy Cowen said, “The Government’s plan to establish a new semi-state monolith in the style of Irish Water is misguided. This would involve removing all operational responsibilities from Local Authorities. However Local Authorities are not the ones holding up the delivery of social housing. The responsibility for this lies with the over-bearing four-stage approval process that each Local Authority has to go through with the Department of Housing."
“The Government is looking for a vehicle that can borrow off the general Government and Local Authority balance sheets. However NAMA can already achieve this and has a special purpose vehicle for social housing delivery on the lands it manages for its debtors and receivers," he added.
“NAMA already funds the acquisition of social housing on NAMA funded sites via the National Asset Residential Property Services. NAMA provides these houses to local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies on long term leases. However under the NAMA Act, the agency cannot become linked to the acquisition, management or funding of non-NAMA assets. This includes development on state lands. This needs to be re-examined," he claimed.
Rather than setting up a new quango, Cowen proposes that the NAMA Act be amended to give NAMA an additional mandate to deliver residential development on Local Authority owned sites, state and semi-state owned lands. "This would work mainly for large and medium sized mixed tenure developments, including private, affordable and social housing," he said.
Under Cowen's proposals, NAMA would work directly with developers to get "the best deal for Local Authorities." "This would ensure there is a consistent affordable and social housing dividend from each site. NAMA has the specialist expertise which Local Authorities – and frankly the Department of Housing – do not have, in land, asset and financial management. The Government should be looking to put this expertise to good use," he continued.
“Under our plan the role of the Department would be to set minimum guidelines on social and affordable dividends that have to be achieved. However they would no longer be involved in the four stage approval process that is currently hampering the delivery of social housing by Local Authorities."
"In effect, our proposal would give Local Authorities greater powers and flexibility. It would enable the delivery of faster and better social and affordable housing," Cowen concluded.
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