Housing Agency support for AHBs
Through its wide-ranging services and engagement, the agency assists AHBs in the delivery of affordable housing across Ireland
Image: the first Cost Rental scheme in Woodside, Enniskerry Road.
Policy Officer, The Housing Agency
The Housing Agency supports the Approved Housing Bodies (AHB) sector, providing assistance with new funding models and the delivery of the Cost Rental housing programme. The Housing Agency aims to add value and to strategically support the AHB sector; here we set out some of the key activities in achieving this.
AHB Services Unit
The AHB Services Unit assists the AHB sector to deliver social housing through providing direct assistance to AHBs relating to Payment & Availability Agreements (P&A). This is where an AHB makes properties available for social housing for an agreed term to nominated tenants and the local authority makes payment based on market rents.
The AHB Services Unit also assists AHBs with the Capital Advance Loan Facility (CALF), which supports access to private or Housing Finance Agency finance. The team assists larger AHBs with problem-solving on more complex projects, as well as P&A document processing.
The team carries out the financial appraisals of applications for funding by AHBs and provides the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage with recommendations on the level of CALF and P&A required for each proposal. This support and advice to AHBs helps projects move forward.
Projects and Procurement
The Projects and Procurement Sections provide architectural, engineering and quantity surveying services to Approved Housing Bodies in the delivery of housing nationwide (see graphic).
The Housing Agency’s technical team is experienced in social housing construction, regeneration, infill and upgrade projects from feasibility through to completion and handover.
The team also assists AHBs in the procurement of consultants and works contractors using Capital Works Management Framework (CWMF) and offers project management and design services.
The team provides advice to AHBs surrounding the Capital Assistance Scheme process and can also advise on alternative delivery options.
Affordable Housing Unit
The Affordable Housing Unit supports the AHB sector to deliver affordable housing. The team worked with Respond, Tuath and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to deliver the first Cost Rental scheme in Woodside, Enniskerry Road.
The unit also offers advice and assistance to AHBs in relation to the Cost Rental Equity Loan (CREL), which provides the AHB sector with a new funding stream to broaden the assistance AHBs can provide to communities (see article).
Navigating Cost Rental and CREL has involved a new form of tenure, new roles, new processes and new legislation. A collaborative approach between AHBs and The Housing Agency has been essential in the delivery of the first CREL schemes.
“Navigating Cost Rental and CREL has involved a new form of tenure, new roles, new processes and new legislation. A collaborative approach between AHBs and The Housing Agency has been essential in the delivery of the first CREL schemes.”
Some figures since 2019:
- 599 sets of project contracts prepared by the AHB Services Unit for AHB projects with local authorities
- 888 Cost Rental homes were approved for Cost Rental Equity Loan funding
- The Housing Agency has offered professional and technical services including design and project management and has helped to deliver 20 housing projects for both local authorities and AHBs
- More than 8,000 attendees across 80 training and information sessions held on a range of housing-related topics
- The Housing Agency has worked with more than 50 AHBs nationwide to help them procure consultant teams and provide ongoing support
- The Education Bursary scheme has enabled more than 159 students to undertake housing studies education courses
- 800 applications assessed for P&A-CALF funding from 27 different AHBs to provide more than 18,000 homes
In addition to supporting AHBs, The Housing Agency delivers the Housing Education Bursary Scheme. This supports students and housing professionals seeking to enrol in housing studies courses offered by the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) and the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH), who would otherwise be unable to secure funding for the full course fees.
The Housing Agency offers support to housing practitioners nationally through the National Housing Training Programme and organises events such as the Housing Practitioner’s Conference and The Housing Agency’s annual conference.
The Housing Agency’s Policy and Practice team aims to build capacity in the housing sector. An example of this is the work we are doing to develop a housing officer apprenticeship programme to support our stakeholders.
Additionally, the team engages with local authorities and AHBs via workshops on a range of topics and provides regular evidence-based Housing Policy Insights papers to inform thinking and policymaking. The Housing Agency also carries out and supports research on topical housing issues (see our Publications online).