A Timeline of Co-operative Housing Ireland
Co-operative Housing Ireland (CHI), formerly NABCo, was formed in 1973 to support the growing housing co-operative movement that emerged in the late 1960s and 1970s.
A typical co-operative housing scheme during this period focused on home ownership, and involved between 8-20 homes, although in a few cases, between 130-150 homes were built by local co-ops over a number of years.
By the late 1970s, Irish housing co-operatives were catering to about 5% of the Irish housing market and were hailed as the ‘Third Arm’ of Irish housing, alongside local authorities and private developers.
CHI established a full-time staffed office in 1979 to provide information and guidance on a wider scale.
In that same year the new Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act allowed the Department of the Environment to pay a grant-in-aid to CHI as the representative body for housing co-operatives.
The Department of Local Government encouraged local authorities to assist co-operative housing by allocating building sites, liaising with co-operatives, and assisting promptly with applications for mortgages.
From 1979 and throughout the 1980s, CHI worked with other organisations involved in housing provision or those that were widening the scope of housing services.
In the 1980s, CHI’s focus shifted from private home-ownership to social-rented co-operatives.
This shift was largely as a result of a review of housing policy (Report No. 87) which recommended the recognition of the role of housing co-operatives in the provision of social-rented for low-income households. The review acknowledged that co-operatives have a distinct form of membership and organisational structure emphasising their potential for providing and managing housing with both ownership and rental forms of tenure.
In 1984, the Department of the Environment introduced the Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS). This allowed for grant transfers for financing mortgage loans to Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) toward the cost of providing rental accommodation.
CAS led to CHI supporting Ireland’s first co-operative rental scheme, the 13-home ‘Greenlawns’ project in Coolock, with rents linked to household income rather than market rates.
The launch of the CAS scheme coincided with an increased focus by CHI on the provision of co-operative rental homes to new members allocated directly from local authority waiting lists.
A range of sites were provided by local authorities in Dublin for this purpose, leading to 276 houses and apartments at seven locations throughout the 1990s.
During the 1980s and 1990s, over 20 co-operative housing projects were completed by CHI. In 1991, a new Capital Loan and Subsidy Scheme allowed advance loans to approved housing bodies of up to 100%. This enabled the expansion of CHI in Swords, Parlickstown, Ballyogan, Clondalkin, Lucan, Balbriggan and Killinarden until the end of the 1990s.
In 2000, through Part V of the Planning and Development Act, CHI began working with private sector developers and completed an apartment block at Rockfield, Dundrum, and Cardy Rock, Ballbriggan.
CHI continued to grow its foothold within Dublin throughout the 2000s and 2010s, the largest project of which was Avondale, a development of 200 dwellings completed in 2012.
Newtown Court, developed in partnership with Dublin City Council, was the largest development in Ireland in 2004 with 193 apartments and duplex apartments. The homes comprise a mix of social rented and shared-equity ownership purchase dwellings.
CHI expanded its reach by delivering homes in Galway and Kildare initially, and then in Munster with housing being developed in Kerry and Waterford. To further this expansion, a new office was established, staff of which helped to establish a foothold in the southern region.
2011 saw the withdrawal of the Capital Loan and Subsidy Scheme (CLSS), primarily as a response to the 2008 economic crisis. The majority of social-rented housing would no longer be funded through capital grants, AHBs and others would be expected to manage loans from both the Department of the Environment (now Housing) and from other sources (eg the Housing Finance Agency and banks).
CHI responded to this new reality by developing stronger relationships with the Department of Housing and key stakeholders in order to maintain and improve on its housing output.
In 2020, Co-operative Housing Ireland delivered the largest social-rented housing development in Ireland that year with 144 homes in Rathnew, Co. Wicklow. The organisation moved its HQ from Baggot Street to Warrington place. In that same year, CHI delivered a record number of 454 homes across the island of Ireland. This growth marks a continuous trend, as from 2016, CHI’s delivery of homes has increased dramatically, from 194 to 592 in 2021.