Respond, one of Ireland's largest Approved Housing Bodies and service providers, have
99 new social and cost rental homes are under construction in Westmeath.
The announcement was made in Respond's Annual Report 2021.
Respond now owns and manages 26 homes across the county, supporting service users in social housing developments and cost rental schemes, family homeless services, early childhood care and education, and supports for elderly people and refugees.
The announcement was made as Respond's Annual Report 2021 was launched today by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O'Brien TD, detailing the real impact the organisation has had in local communities across the country.
Respond was directly responsible for providing 16.4%[i] of all new social and cost rental homes built by Approved Housing Bodies across Ireland last year, including Ireland's first purpose-built cost rental scheme at Woodside, Enniskerry Road.
Respond has 1,422 new social and cost rental homes in construction nationwide. The organisation delivered 624 new social and affordable homes in 2021 and commenced construction on 778 homes. This increases the number of properties it owns or manages to over 6,500.
Commenting, Respond Spokesperson Niamh Randall said:
"Our Annual Report is a snapshot of the great work carried out by our teams on the ground supporting those who need it most in our communities. Central to this support is providing families with access to stable, long-term homes where they can put down roots as part of a local community. Despite the challenge of construction cost inflation, we have 1,422 new social and cost rental homes under construction across the country. We are committed to continuing to help alleviate the massive need nationwide for social housing and supporting the Government's Housing for All strategy."
"Respond's current building programme has a value of more than €1bn. However, the current models for delivering social and cost rental homes are proving increasingly challenging in light of construction cost inflation, which has seen significant increases in the last 12 months, along with the recent increases in interest rates. We are working with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage on a welcome review of the structure and operation of Capital Advanced Leasing Facility (CALF) funding scheme. The CALF scheme enables Approved Housing Bodies like Respond to deliver social homes. In addition, we welcome commitments to make changes to the Cost Rental Equity Loan Scheme as part of Budget 2023".
Darragh O'Brien TD, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, added: "I would like to commend Respond's work in supporting families across the country, both in terms of delivering new homes and the wider community support services it offers. The Government's Housing for All strategy is focused on increasing the housing supply, in addition to providing a range of affordable purchase and rental measures. Respond's work is critical in helping us towards achieving these goals."
In addition to its role as an Approved Housing Body delivering housing developments and cost rental schemes, Respond provides several additional services to communities nationwide, including family homeless services, Early Learning and School Aged Care services, and services for older people, families and refugees.
The Annual Report details the real impact of Respond's wider services last year:
" 92 families were supported through its Refugee Resettlement programme which included orientation to Irish society, psychotherapy and counselling, and employment and financial supports.
" Respond's early learning and school aged care services supported 483 children, 277 of whom were aged five and below. This covered full day care and education services.
" Respond provided emergency accommodation, with 24/7 support, for 207 families who became homeless. A total of 319 children were supported through these services, 200 of whom were aged five and below. Supports included housing, mental and physical health support, budgeting and education.
" 168 older people were supported through Respond's Daycare for Older People services, with close to 3,000 Meals on Wheels delivered, in addition to exercise and activities programmes, health monitoring and home visits.
" More than 300 people were supported through Respond's Family Support services, which included personal development, family learning, self-care and wellness, and budgeting programmes.
Niamh Randall, Spokesperson for Respond, said that Respond were extremely proud of their work in not just building homes but supporting communities around them:
"Respond's community-based frontline services provide a valuable relief to many families and a stable learning environment for children to help them thrive. These services are hugely important in the context of the cost of living crisis which has disproportionate impacts on families and individuals on low incomes and already living in poverty. Our services provide support to people throughout all stages of their lives, from childhood to old age. We are there for people in good times but also in their most difficult moments, such as for those experiencing homelessness or fleeing from their home countries because of war. In recent months our experienced Refugee Resettlement Team have welcomed a small number of refugees from Ukraine to accommodation repurposed for their use. Approximately half of our 350 staff have a background in social care and this expertise and experience adds to Respond's service offering for both our tenants and service users."