Balance sheet ‘key issue’ for Irish housing

Exclusive: The Irish government has outlined the importance of off-balance sheet investment to meet the social housing need and the role of Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs).

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has told Partnerships Bulletin that harnessing the off-balance sheet potential of private investment in social housing is an important objective of the government and the social housing targets set out in Rebuilding Ireland over the period to 2021 reflect that ambition.

AHBs are tasked with delivering around one third of the overall ambition for new social housing supply over that period. The department is facilitating the AHBs and said one of the purposes of developing new funding sources and arrangements for AHBs in recent years was to unlock the potential for private investment.

The role of AHBs in Ireland was highlighted this week after a press launch event was held to announce a PPP deal between Oaklee Housing, Nord LB and the department. 

The Capital Advance Leasing Facility (CALF) loan was signed in December, however Partnerships Bulletin understands the announcement was deferred until tenants were in situ. CALF is a low interest fully repayable loan, made by a local authority, to an AHB that assists with the early funding of construction and acquisition projects. AHBs secure the balance (at least 70%) of the funding for each project through private finance arrangements. 

Oaklee was awarded funding under the department’s Innovation Fund for its work with Centrus on securing off-balance sheet government funding. One of the criteria for the awarding of this funding is that the output from the specific proposal should be made available to the wider AHB sector on completion without disclosing commercially sensitive information.

Meanwhile, the National Development Finance Agency has confirmed PQQ submissions for Social Housing PPP Bundle 2 have been received and are currently being evaluated with a shortlist expected in the second quarter of 2018.