Social Housing

In the most recent National Statement of Housing Supply, Demand and Outlook the need for over 81,000 homes was identified. 91,600 of assessed households qualified and were in need of social housing support, over 7,000 people were homeless, it identified a growing affordability problem in cities for renters and 50,000 mortgages were in long-term arrears.

It is recognised that no one funding, or delivery model will deliver the required social housing stock needed to meet this demand and it emphasises the important role social housing developments are going to play in rectifying this.
Approved housing bodies provide the majority of social housing in Ireland.

However, the report also details that the level of current developments needs a substantial increase over the coming years if there is to be any chance at satisfying the demand into the future.

Who does what in a
social housing build project?

Social homes are provided by housing associations (not-for-profit organisations that own, let, and manage rented housing) or a local authority. The key idea of social housing is that it’s more affordable than private renting and usually provides a more secure, long-term tenancy.

The Department of Housing Planning, Community and Local Government; Planning Community and Local Government working in partnership with central and local Government: 

  • Secures and manages the Exchequer funding,
  • Puts the overall programmes in place and manages them, 
  • Sets targets with each local authority and approved housing body, 
  • Assesses project applications for the purpose of quality and value for money, 
  • Manages and reports on the overall social housing build programme. 

Local Authorities

Local authorities have an important role in the Social Housing process as they are key in identifying the needs of their communities. They have the final decision on where and how many social housing units will be developed in an area. Local authorities are the main providers of social housing support in Ireland. They are the biggest landlord in the State as a result. The main purpose of the Housing Services Department in local authorities is to facilitate in the provision of suitable, cost effective, quality accommodation and housing support for people who need it.

Housing Associations

Housing associations are responsible for identifying and proposing viable social housing developments. Approved housing associations also work with local authorities in delivering and managing social housing build projects. Housing associations are independent, not-for-profit charities. In general, they provide affordable rented housing for people who cannot afford to pay private sector rents or buy their own homes, or for particular groups, such as elderly people or those who are homeless.

Housing Co-Operatives

Housing co-operatives are organisations comprised of tenants or owners where the members share responsibility for the management and upkeep of their homes. Tenant housing co-operatives are very similar to housing associations.

Approved Housing Bodies

Approved housing bodies are independent non-profit making organisations that provide:

  • Rented housing for people who cannot afford to buy their own homes, 
  • Specialist housing, such as housing for the elderly or those who are homeless.

They are also known as voluntary housing associations or housing co-operatives. An approved housing body may provide housing by:

  • Building new houses
  • Buying existing homes
  • Leasing private houses

They use private finance to pay for housing developments or to buy property. They also receive state funding through local authorities to facilitate in the provision of housing. 

To become a tenant of an approved housing body, you must apply through your local authority using the same application form you use for local authority housing.

These voluntary housing organisations are known as approved housing bodies (AHBs). This means that they have been approved under the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992 for the function of accessing assistance from local authorities for social housing delivery. While there are differences between the various types of organisation involved, the term “housing associations” is also often used to cover all voluntary housing organisations.


Landowners understand the pressures facing rural and urban communities, and they are uniquely placed to help keep these towns and villages thriving. There is a clear appetite among landowners to help create affordable housing for local people. Whether you are looking to sell or develop a site without planning permission or you have planning permission and want to develop the site yourself or sell it, you are an integral part of any social housing development.


Developers have an integral role in the social housing development process. They are responsible for the construction of the units and can also be the landowners. They are contracted by the local authority or housing association to construct the development. A good reputation and a history of delivering results is necessary for any local authority or housing association to employ a developer.