Nama defends social housing efforts as campaigners demand action

Homeless people and activists march past government Buildings on their way to the Department of Finance to highlight the homeless Crisis in Ireland. Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association

THE south's bad-bank Nama said it has delivered 2,378 social houses and apartments amid renewed calls for it to make more property available for the homeless.

The Home Sweet Home campaign demanded the Government force the agency to move faster as a deadline looms for the group to leave the Apollo House office block in central Dublin.

Up to 40 homeless people have been living in the once empty civil service building since it was occupied by activists in the middle of December.

Organisers are to meet Housing Minister Simon Coveney on Friday as behind-the-scenes efforts are made to avoid the potential for a forced eviction when a court order kicks in next Wednesday at midday.

Brendan Ogle, one of those leading the campaign, said Nama can be forced to increase the amount of social housing available "at the stroke of a pen".

"The bar has been raised in terms of the minimum standards that should be provided to our most vulnerable citizens, those homeless people who find themselves on the street," he said.

Mr Ogle outlined a series of demands to deal with the housing and homelessness crisis and to help bring an end to the occupation of Apollo House.

The campaign's emergency housing response plan includes calls for accommodation which homeless people can access 24 hours a day and remain in for six months, private beds and access to services.

"We believe ... through Nama, our ministers are in a fortunate position. Angela Merkel doesn't have a Nama. There's homelessness in Berlin. Theresa May doesn't have a Nama and there's homelessness in London. And Francois Hollande doesn't have a Nama and there's homelessness in Paris," Mr Ogle said.

The trade union official said Finance Minister Michael Noonan and his cabinet colleague Mr Coveney effectively control land and buildings which can be re-designated for the homeless people living in Apollo House.

In its annual review Nama defended its work on social housing and said it delivered 2,378 houses and apartments in 167 individual projects in 19 counties.

They include 899 in the four Dublin council areas, 445 in Cork city and county, 228 in Galway city and county, 51 in Waterford and 16 in Limerick.

Another 370 homes are being worked on.

It said it had identified 6,941 homes for social housing since 2012.

In its statement it said: "Throughout 2016, Nama continued to work closely with the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government and the Housing Agency in seeking to match the residential stock held by its debtors and receivers with the requirements of local authorities for social housing."

It said that it puts homes up for sale or rent in the private market if councils or the Housing Agency tell them there is no demand.

Nama also said that it had 2.2 billion euro in cash at the end of last year and that it expects to turn a profit of about 2.3 billion euro when it finishes its work.

It said that the number of unfinished or ghost estates on its books came down from 332 at the end of 2010 to 25 at the end of last year. Nama said it should be resolved this year.

The Home Sweet Home campaign sent a petition to Mr Noonan earlier this week urging him to use a clause in the Nama act to force it to make property available for social housing


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