Voluntary Housing

What are Approved Housing Bodies?

Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), also called housing associations or voluntary housing associations, are independent, not-for-profit organisations. They provide affordable rented housing for people who cannot afford to pay private sector rents or buy their own homes, or for particular groups, such as older people or homeless people.

AHBs also include housing co-operatives, which are housing organisations controlled by their members/tenants who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions.

Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992 enables housing authorities, among other things, to provide assistance to AHBs for the provision of housing. Section 6 (6) of the Act empowers the Minister to grant approved status for this purpose.

For further information contact the AHB Policy and Regulation Section, Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, Newtown Road, Wexford, Y35 AP90 or email ahb@housing.gov.ie

Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS)

Under this scheme, voluntary housing bodies provide accommodation, generally one or two bedroomed units, to meet special housing needs such as those of the elderly, disabled, homeless or smaller families.

Capital Advanced Leasing Facility (CALF)

The Capital Advanced Leasing Facility was introduced in 2011 as a new model of funding for voluntary housing with the aim of ensuring greater supply of housing in changed market conditions. CALF is a facility available to assist Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to access private or Housing Finance Agency (HFA) loan finance for the purchase, and, in some cases, construction of units, that will then be made available for social housing under the leasing initiative.

CALF will be one of the main capital funding streams for the supply of social housing in the future. CALF is available to housing associations as part of a leasing project and must be for a term of between 10 and 30 years.

Communal Facility Grants

These grants are in addition to the grants already approved under the Capital Assistance Scheme by the Minister for the provision, by approved voluntary housing bodies, of accommodation for elderly, homeless and persons with disabilities.

The financial assistance covers up to 90% of the costs of providing the facilities, or €7,500 for each unit of living accommodation, whichever is the lesser. The works covered include the provision of communal dining/kitchen facilities, laundries, sitting/activity areas and other facilities reasonably required to improve the residents' living conditions. Where practicable and compatible with the needs of the residents of the approved body's housing accommodation the communal facilities should also be used to serve local community needs (e.g. meals-on-wheels, recreation and social services etc.).

Further information

The Register of Approved Housing Bodies provides the name and address of all bodies currently approved under Section 6 of the Housing Act 1992

The Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) is the national social housing federation representing housing associations in Ireland. They can assist with details on how to become an approved body for the purposes of voluntary housing as well as ongoing assistance with governance etc. The ICSH can be contacted as follows:

Irish Council for Social Housing, 50 Merrion Square East, Dublin 2, Ireland. Telephone: 01 661 8334. Email: info@icsh.ie

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