Carbery Housing Association is a small Housing Association based in Skibbereen that I have been working with since we set it up in 2001. We have two properties on long-term leases from private owners that we let our to families on the housing list at Council-equivalent rents, through a Govt. subsidy programme. We are looking to expand our work to the "rescue" of families who are in unsolvable Mortgage Arrears. This is under a programme called Mortgages to Rents, available to some approved housing bodies of which we are one.
CHA has been working with the initiative for some months and has reached the point of exchanging contracts for 7 properties in Cork City and County. The families involved are hugely relieved to think they will be able to remain in their homes. They are also agreeable that the houses will be bought by CHA and that they will become permanent tenants at Council rentals. CHA has plans to undertake energy retrofits to all the houses, once secured.AIB has made a loan offer on 75% of the purchase cost but placed a condition that we raise 25,000 EUR to be paid as deposit on the purchase. I believe this is intended to ensure that CHA has some financial margin should unexpected costs arise (i.e. one of the houses need extensive repair) that might obstruct it’s capacity to repay the loan. The loan will be met by payments made to Carbery HA from Cork City and County Councils, in exchange for housing the families concerned. This requirement is proving more difficult than it seems as Carbery HA is a small voluntary group and not experienced in large scale fund raising.Some financial support has been awarded by the St. Stephen's Green Trust which has allowed the fund- raising campaign to begin. At this stage, 1000 copies of the leaflet (above) are being distributed to local businesses and individuals and a variety of activities are planned for the coming months, including a benefit “gig" on Sunday August 16th at the West Cork Hotel.
These 7 properties, added to our exiting 2, will help build CHA into a viable local housing association providing housing for persons in need and extending the safety net for distressed mortgagees. There are 12,000 households on Cork housing lists and there are 90,000 mortgagees in + 2 years arrears in Ireland. Given spending cuts and borrowing limits, after the next election direct spending on Council housing will be difficult. Housing Associations will be needed and we are the only one based in this region providing general needs housing.
We would welcome any help or ideas that you might be able to offer. You are probably involved in many causes, but I think you will agree that there is great need for good quality housing for people who cannot afford the market.