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Co-Operative Housing Ireland launching the Inbhear na Sionna scheme.

Inbhear’s inroad into meeting Clare town’s demand for housing

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LAST week saw the official launch of Inbhear na Sionna, the new 47-unit estate, which has been delivered by approved housing body Co-operative Housing Ireland.

The houses are one, two, three and four-bed units, each one with a BER rating of A3.

Pearse O’Sheil is chairman of Co-Operative Housing Ireland and speaking about the organisation’s work he said, “What we do is provide homes for families, either in the social housing sector as an approved housing body, or indeed for groups of people who wish to come together as a co-operative and build their own homes.

Since its foundation in 1973, the organisation has provided over 6,000 homes through home-ownership, shared ownership and social rented co-operatives. With its membership of democratic local co-operatives, Co-operative Housing Ireland manages more than 3,000 homes across Ireland as well as providing a network of childcare services in their communities.

“We operate in the social housing sector, State support sector and we’d be open to people who want to come together and have a kind of a mutual supportive ethos to build their own homes.”

He said there was no doubt that there was demand for such a public housing project in the town. “At the moment we’re in the middle of a housing crisis, so we know there’s an absolute need to produce new homes.

“Shannon would have a very significant housing need and it was in response to that need identified by Clare County Council. We would always work with Clare County Council to try and meet a housing need by providing homes. There are 47 homes now in Inbhear na Sionna, mainly two-bed apartments and two-bed houses.”

He added, “The Council has all the nomination rights. The Council would come up with a list of people in housing need and from that we would house people in the development.”

There has been some concern in Shannon about a greater amount of social housing, with little private development, but he believes there is a good balance.

“Shannon is pretty mixed in a sense, there’s a lot of private housing in Shannon as well as social housing. The standard of housing and the constituency of people who would be eligible for social housing has changed pretty radically over the years.

“These houses are A-rated, there’s a very high standard of housing and the key in all of this housing of people is management, how do we manage the housing.

“Providing the housing is one thing, but then downstream, when they are allocated, how are they managed. I think the approved housing bodies have proven themselves very effective at housing management.”

What does this management involve? “You’d be doing maintenance, allocation, people leave or die or move on and you have to do up the house before you reallocate it.

“Basically then dealing with the social aspect. In any housing development there are always going to be social aspects that need to be managed. There’s a social aspect and a physical aspect of the homes themselves.”

Typically, 10% of member tenants who are nominated by local authorities come from homelessness.

The housing body says Roisin (see our story right,) was very fortunate in that she had the wider support of family and friends.

However, their experience is telling them that many individuals and families, due to trauma, require additional support when moving into their new home beyond what is currently provided.

Currently, the level of supports delivered county by county differ for people moving from homelessness to permanent housing.

There is a need, Co-Operative Housing believes, to deliver these services based on an individual’s needs and for greater consistency nationwide.

By Owen Ryan

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