Voluntary/Co-operative Housing – General Information

Voluntary and co-operative housing is the provision of social/general and special needs housing by Voluntary organisations to help fill gaps in the housing system, increase the supply of good quality rental housing and widen the housing options for families and single persons drawn mainly from the local authority housing waiting lists.

Housing authorities play an enabling and administrative role in the operation of Capital funding schemes. Traditionally, the role of the local authority is to initially assess any proposal for housing from a Voluntary housing body, ensure that procedures as set out by the Department of the Environment are being complied with and forward any proposals which are deemed feasible to the Department for their approval. This procedure is applied where up to 100% grant aid funding is available for projects. As this is no longer the case, the onus is now on Voluntary bodies to engage in alternative sources of funding such as the Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF).

The legal /statutory basis for housing authorities to assist approved bodies in the provision of housing is Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992. The terms and conditions for the Capital funding schemes are set out in Memorandum VHU 2/02 issued by the Department in 2002 and subsequent circulars.

Types of Capital funding available to Voluntary bodies:

Capital Assistance scheme (CAS)

The Capital Assistance Scheme usually provides Capital funding from the Declg for special needs housing such as accommodation for the elderly, physically disabled, intellectually challenged and homeless individuals.

Up to 2007, Voluntary and Co-operative bodies were eligible for funding of up to 95% of the approved cost of projects being financed under the Capital Assistance scheme. In these cases approved housing bodies can retain nomination rights for up to 25% of tenancies. Since November 1st 2007, all new projects which commence construction are eligible for funding of up to 100% of the approved cost, provided all proposed tenants have been assessed as being in need of social housing by the Local Authority. The new funding limits also apply to units acquired under Part V or as turnkey projects.  The funding once approved is paid over to the Local Authority in the form of a grant which in turn is transferred to the Voluntary body in the form of a non-repayable loan. This necessitates a Deed of Mortgage being drawn up which is registered as a charge for the Council on the property in the amount of the loan which has been paid to the Voluntary body.

Funding is provided for building projects on lands which are either owned by the Council or by the Voluntary body, house purchases or Part V purchases.

An income based system of rent calculation is in place. Eligible tenants can apply for a rent supplement, a means tested benefit payable through the Rental Accommodation scheme. Rents collected are used to fund management and maintenance programmes. There is no tenant purchase option available to residents.

Voluntary bodies currently have a total of 468 units (one unit counts as a bedroom) in County Kildare provided under the Capital Assistance scheme.

Capital Loan & Subsidy scheme (CLSS)

The Capital Loan & Subsidy scheme usually provides family type housing by Voluntary bodies for general needs families who are on the Council’s housing list. This scheme is no longer in operation having been terminated in 2010.

The terms of the scheme were in general  similar to the Capital Assistance scheme with the fundamental difference being that funding for the scheme was provided in the form of a “loan” from the Housing Finance Agency which was not repayable provided the Voluntary body complied with the terms of the scheme. The amount of the mortgage loan is registered as a charge on the property and loan repayments and interest charges are fully recoupable from the Department of the Environment by the Council to offset the repayments to the HFA by the Council’s Finance Section.

An income based system of rent calculation is in place based on a prescribed formula set out in Department guidelines. A  Management & Maintenance subsidy payable by the Department of the Environment, currently set at €543.00 per eligible house, is available to the Voluntary body on an annual basis. As with the Capital Assistance scheme, there is no tenant purchase scheme available at present.

There is a total of  491 family houses currently in County Kildare run by Voluntary bodies which have been in receipt of CLSS funding.

Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF)

In June 2011, a new scheme for funding the provision of dwellings by Voluntary Housing bodies was introduced by the Department of the Environment. The purpose of this new facility is to assist Approved Housing bodies access finance from financial institutions and the Housing Finance Agency that can be used to acquire or construct dwellings for social housing under the Social Housing Leasing Initiative.

CALF operates in accordance with the following terms:

  • Up to a maximum of 30% of the value of the property to be purchased will be considered by the Department in terms of  the capital contribution. However, the 30% capital contribution will only be approved in exceptional circumstances. The capital money is paid as a loan that would accrue interest at a fixed rate of 2% simple interest per annum. The loan including the interest accrued will be repaid at the end of the lease term.
  • The AHB must be approved for finance from the Housing Finance Agency or be able to demonstrate access to private finance for the balance of the funding required.
  • Lease payments from the Local Authority to the Voluntary body would be set at the standard rate of  92% of market rent.

The standard terms of an AHB leasing agreement also apply, including:

  • That the AHB will liaise with the housing authority in question concerning the allocation of the leased units. All units are to be occupied by households in need of social housing support who are on the authority’s waiting list, are homeless or who have been in receipt of rent supplement for more than 18 months.

Support for both housing authorities and approved housing bodies in progressing such projects and dealing with the legal prospects of the capital advance and availability agreements are available as needed from the Housing Agency.

Social Housing Leasing Initiative Payments

Voluntary Housing bodies who may have purchased or rented properties and have entered into a leasing arrangement with the local authority are in receipt of a monthly payment from the Local Authority under the Social Housing Leasing Initiative element of the Rental Accommodation scheme.

Including CALF, there is a total of 173 houses in Kildare being provided for social housing under this funding stream