Irish credit unions back new affordable and social housing fund

The Credit Union Development Agency is working with Initiative Ireland on the scheme and hopes to deliver 1,000 new homes a year

Ireland’s Credit Union Development Agency (Cuda) joined up with Initiative Ireland to launch a new social and affording housing fund.

The scheme will enable credit unions across the country to take advantage of recent regulatory changes which allow them to lend to approved housing bodies (AHBs) through a regulated fund.

Initiative Ireland, which specialises in funding social and affordable housing developments nationwide, will act as an investment advisor, sourcing and managing projects with AHBs.

Cuda, which has a membership of more than 50 credit unions, which manage over €7bn in assets, will lead engagement with member credit unions as a sub-adviser. It is hoped the fund will deploy over €300m a year on behalf of credit unions to deliver over 1,000 new homes annually.

Housing minister Darragh O’Brien said: I would like to commend the partnership between Initiative Ireland and Cuda which will see the creation of social and affordable homes by our AHBs. This strategy has significant potential to make a real impact to credit unions, approved housing bodies and ultimately the lives of people across the country.”

Cuda chief executive Kevin Johnson said: Through this new fund our members will play a key role in supporting an increase in supply of much-needed housing nationwide. The fund will provide competitive finance to approved housing bodies which play a key role in the delivery of social housing today. As not-for-profit enterprises, they purchase and commission new social housing for long-term lease back to local county councils.

“This activity is vital in promoting and enabling the construction of social housing nationwide. We hope to offer an ongoing sustainable and affordable source of funding for Housing Bodies and in turn credit unions will have the opportunity to deploy their members savings into a conservative, sustainably managed strategy.”

Padraig W. Rushe, CEO at Initiative Ireland, said: As a social impact finance specialist, we are committed to strategies that deliver clear societal and environmental impact and promote financial inclusion. Over the last five years, we’ve worked with our impact investor community to deliver social and affordable housing projects across the country. Our partnership with CUDA is the logical next step, as we look to increase the scale of that impact.” 

Initiative Ireland, headquartered at NovaUCD – an innovation hub at University College Dublin – and supported by Enterprise Ireland, was founded in 2015 with the goal of providing increased financial inclusion, competition, and sustainability to the Irish finance market.

Sinead Byrne, chief operating officer at Initiative Ireland said, “As a values-based finance company, we’re committed to providing honest, fair and inclusive finance to deliver social good and fair returns. We’re delighted to announce our partnership with CUDA and Irish credit unions which were also founded on those principles and we look forward to building on that relationship over the coming years.”