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Nama set to become key housing development agency?

Words: Roger Milne

Land taken over by the state during the banking crash will be freed up to build new homes as the Irish government seeks a solution to the country's property crisis.

In a bid to tackle the escalating housing shortage, finance minister Michael Noonan is reported to be planning to turn the state’s bad bank, Nama, into a housing development agency to deliver homes for families unable to purchase a property.

In a radical shake-up of Nama’s role, it will be told to start building houses and releasing key sites in areas of high demand so that construction of new homes can begin.

According to media reports the minister will include a package of measures on housing in next month's Budget – but he does not want to simply give tax breaks to developers.

Instead, he is focused on changing Nama’s remit from a debt management agency into a home builder – a move called for in many quarters, given the large tracts of land it controls and its access to finance.

Noonan has indicated he will make Nama into a housing executive, charged with building both affordable housing for families, and social housing aimed at reducing council waiting lists. The minister signalled his intentions at a recent Fine Gael parliamentary party ‘think-in’. He told party members he hopes to overhaul the bad bank’s mandate as part of concerted efforts to address the housing shortage before the forthcoming general election.

Under the new proposals, Nama resources will be used to provide both social and affordable housing.

Image courtesy of EU Council Eurozone