Ó Cualann Housing alliance makes it into final of innovation awards
WICKLOW-BASED Ó Cualann Co-housing Alliance, has made it through to the final of the Innovation Awards 2018, the winner of which will be announced later this month.
The company, which is based in Bray, has been nominated in the Sustainability category. The overall winner of The Irish Times Innovation of the Year Award 2018 will be selected from among the five category award winners. The Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance has come up with an innovative solution to the very difficult situation facing many families who find themselves earning too much to qualify for social housing but not enough to afford a mortgage on a home of their own.
The objective of the organisation is to build mixed developments of social and affordable housing where no owner-occupier has to spend more than 33 per cent of their net household income on their mortgage. The cost of the homes is reduced mainly through local authorities supplying sites at little or no cost and waiving development levies.
Hugh Brennan, CEO of Ó Cualann said the Alliance in 2014 to provide fully integrated, co-operative, affordable housing in sustainable communities.
‘For years, housing in Ireland has been segregated on the basis of income. If you couldn’t afford your own home the State decided where you lived and in doing so created very big estates of social housing which became more deprived with social problems magnifying over time,’ he said.
In the Ó Cualann model, social and affordable homes are mixed together one beside another to form fully integrated communities.
‘We set about developing a model that we hoped could be replicated around the country. Each buyer pays a booking deposit of four per cent and a development won’t go ahead until it is fully pre-sold. That enables Ó Cualann to secure bank finance to fund construction work.’
With two developments in Ballymun under its belt Ó Cualann is now in discussion with other local authorities and agencies around the country. ‘We have a site in Waterford where we are going to build 15 co-operative and five social houses. We are also talking to Limerick Council, Cork County Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, and the Housing Agency about replicating this model in other areas.’
Ó Cualann is up against two Dublin based firms; EirGrid is nominated for its pilot system for integrating renewable-energy suppliers with the grid while Parkpnp, which describes itself as the Airbnb of parking solutions is nominated for the online parking marketplace it offers users.
The prize for the overall winner is a unique communications package worth in excess of €150,000 as well as a scholarship for all three Executive Development courses from UCD Smurfit Business School commencing in 2019.
CEO Hugh Brennan and Tim Crowley, Head of Finance, at Ó Cualann Co-housing Alliance.