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Voluntary housing

Voluntary Housing is providing rented accommodation, (including communal facilities where appropriate) by Voluntary Housing bodies, which have been approved by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government under section 6 (6) of the Housing Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1992

Accommodation can be designed to cater for those with special needs, i.e. elderly, disabled, homeless etc, and 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.

How CALF will work:

  • An Approved Housing Body (AHB) must submit a proposal to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) for the purchase or construction of units using private finance and payments available under the leasing initiative.
  • The AHB may, if necessary, request a capital investment from the DECLG or Local Authority. This will be based on a percentage of the acquisition or construction costs. A maximum of 30% of the capital funding, i.e. loan, will be contributed through the DECLG. The balance of funding must be raised privately by the AHB.  The capital money advanced by the DECLG will be paid as a loan which accrues interest at a fixed rate of 2% per annum and must be repaid once the private loan is paid in full.
  • If approved, the AHB and the Local Authority enter into two separate agreements:
    Capital Advance Agreement (CAA) - which outlines the terms and conditions of the loan,
    Payment and Availability Agreement (PAA) - which covers the conditions under which the properties will be made available for the term of the agreement.

Key criteria for approval under CALF:

  • AHB must be approved for finance from the HFA and be able to demonstrate access to private finance.
  • AHB must demonstrate value for money.

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Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS)

This Scheme is designed for the provision of rented accommodation for those with special needs i.e. elderly, disabled, homeless etc. The Council may advance non-repayable loans to approved bodies to cover the cost of provision of these units subject to a maximum of €110,000 per unit for one and two person units and €135,000 per unit for larger family type units. Additional funding of €40,000 per unit is also available towards site purchase and development. These loans are not repayable provided that the accommodation continues to be let to eligible categories of persons and is properly maintained. 100% funding subject to the above limits is now available. In this case all lettings must be made to persons who are on the Council's housing waiting list.

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Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) will now be able to procure units under the leasing initiative. This may be done in one of two ways:

  • The AHB may lease units from a private owner/developer and make them available to persons assessed as being in need of social housing support
  • The AHB may undertake the purchase/construction of units using private finance, which will then be made available to meet housing needs.

In both cases the lease payments will be based on a comparison to local market rent. Indicative costing for these elements suggest a discount of at least 20% below market should be sought when negotiating lease payments. Where proposals are approved, the Department will enter into a payment and availability agreement directly with the approved body.

The main features of the new arrangements are as follows;

  • The approved housing body will enter into a lease arrangement with a property owner for periods of between 10 – 20 years;
  • The leases will be for unfurnished dwellings;
  • The lease type will be full ‘repair and insure’ lease with the housing body responsible for insurance, maintenance and upkeep;
  • The accommodation leased will be used to house persons on the local authority’s waiting list.

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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.).

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Further information

Clare County Council welcomes applications for assistance from interested bodies or groups. Further information on the schemes is available from:

Voluntary Housing,
Housing, Social & Cultural Services,
Clare County Council,
Áras Contae an Chláir,
New Road,
Co. Clare.
Telephone: (065) 6846295

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:

50 Merrion Square East,
Dublin 2,
Telephone: (01) 661 8334
Fax: (01) 661 0320 || E mail:

Page last reviewed: 26/06/18

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