A BELATED HAPPY BIRTHDAY NAMA BORN 21ST DECEMBER 2009
Since its inception social housing completed by NAMA is 1,702. If you look at their official website yes a lot of contracts have been agreed but the completed figure is 1,702. Since its creation in December 2009 it has only created 1,702 social housing units, that is 243 social housing units each year it has released from its portfolio in 7 years.
It has agreed and delivered a copious amount of contracts but the outstanding figure of 1,702 is right up there standing at the top of the tables of figures listing the different charities, housing authorities, county councils and more that they are working with. After these contracts have been delivered where is the shortfall happening?
NAMA has identified 6,893 properties in its portfolio suitable for social housing (out of which 1,702 has been completed and one should suspect they have more than that). Out of the 60,000 properties it has acquired it is releasing just a fraction over 10% for social housing (see image below).
Then there is the amount of money NAMA is also getting from the reselling of its property portfolio. €37 billion in by end- October 2016 (see image above). Where does this money go? Why is nothing declared how much NAMA is generating from reselling its acquired properties in government? Who exactly gets the money? Why are there no questions or anger coming from the public?
That €37 billion could build three hundred and seventy thousand houses at a cost of €100 per square foot. This is using private builders paying private suppliers. The government could build the houses at possibly €50 per square foot giving a massive four hundred and forty thousand houses built.
So, where is this NAMA money going?
On the 15th of December just under a week before NAMA’s birthday some concerned members of the public decided “enough is enough”. They took it upon themselves to take over a NAMA controlled building. They did this with the intent of giving rough sleepers in Dublin a place of sanctuary and a place to take shelter over the Christmas and beyond.
Apollo House had been left empty for 6 years. The building was taken over by Home Sweet Home assisted by unions and other housing activists. The Home Sweet Home is a collection of artists, musicians, actors and others concerned with the neverending homelessness crisis here in Ireland. Were they right to take this action and should they continue to do more?
In my opinion, “Yes”.
€37 billion NAMA has made, is that in one year, one day, or seven years? Who got the money?
€27 billion went to bond holders we are told on NAMA’s official website. What’s happening with that €10 billion left over after bond holders have been paid? Out of their portfolio of over 6,893 identified as suitable for social housing units surely 10 billion could take those buildings and renovate them in a jiffy. How come the Irish government is only planning to spend €5.83 billion on housing over 5 years if it has €10 billion in its coffers from state owned NAMA?
I know there are so many questions. But these questions justify somewhat the actions taken by those who occupied Apollo House and actually tried to do something to end homelessness, if even for only a temporary amount of time. Home Sweet Home has been granted a stay of execution on an injunction which will result in the Apollo House building having to be vacated by January 11th 2017. Now, the government has realised the attention is being brought upon them, NAMA and homelessness the government has opened 54 new social places for homeless people. They now have 24 hour access places with individual rooms as was the vision of Home Sweet Home.
But, NAMA has so many more properties that are in trouble of running into dereliction. So, under the care of individuals with a purpose these buildings could be maintained for NAMA until they find a buyer or purpose for these properties.
Apollo House has been filled with professionals from every trade; social care workers (me included), electricians, builders, plumbers, security guards, teachers, recruitment workers, artists, chefs, media workers, administration, fitness instructors, nurses, doctors, counsellors among many more. The homeless are benefitting and could benefit so much more given time from all these different skills being displayed.
Some of the big names involved in the Home Sweet Home movement are UFC champion Conor McGregor & his coach John Kavanagh (who might be possibly be giving some residents some fitness and motivation training in the new year), Christy Moore, Christy Dignam & Aslan, Damien Dempsey, Jim Sheridan among many more.
The government must be embarrassed (I know I would be) that a group of people on a shoestring budget could do more to help the homeless than they have done in six years with billions in their budgets. And more must be done to end homelessness nationwide. But, we can’t just wait for government to do it so support groups who are trying to end homelessness like the Irish Housing Network and Home Sweet Home Eire.
Dublin & National Co-Ordinator of UnitedPeople.