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ICSH Allianz Community Housing Awards 2019

2019 was a record-breaking year for the ICSH Allianz Community Housing Awards, which saw 50 entries across 10 categories. The quality of housing was exceptionally high and we are delighted to again have the opportunity to recognise excellence in the social housing sector, delivered by approved housing bodies and local authorities. Well done to all entrants, shortlisted projects and winners for delivering houisng of such an exceptional standard, making differences to lives and communities all over Ireland.

The awards were presented at the biennial ICSH National Social Housing Conference held in Wexford on October 10th 2019.

Overall Winner – Category: Homeless Projects
Focus Housing Association – 5-6 Johns Lane West, Dublin 8

Speaking at the 2019 Community Housing Awards, Dr Donal McManus, Chief Executive of the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) said: “This year has been an exceptional one for the ICSH Allianz Community Housing Awards with a record number of entries and schemes of truly outstanding quality. The ICSH is proud of this year’s winners and all of the 50 plus entrants, and would like to recognise the support of Rebuilding Ireland in the delivery of these projects. St John’s Lane was chosen as overall winner for many reasons. What stood out for judges was the high-quality design and excellent use of a very challenging site, and the delivery of 31 units of permanent housing in an area of huge demand for housing and homeless services.”
The outcomes for tenants were crucial in the decision. One tenant had previously been living in a B&B for two years immediately prior to moving to Johns Lane. The judges would like to commend Focus Housing Association for their rapid delivery of this scheme, which they see as having huge potential for replication throughout the country.
Jan Mingle of Focus Housing Association said: “It was always our intention to transform the building into long-term sustainable homes, and we see this award as a powerful endorsement of our work. We’d also like to acknowledge the support of Dublin City Council and the Housing Finance Agency in bringing this project to fruition.”
The judges were particularly impressed with how this scheme transformed an old building which worked as a cold weather emergency shelter for 42 people into 31 permanent homes for formerly homeless people. The scheme includes a mix of 1, 2 and 3-bed apartments with an on-site office to provide support services.
The ICSH were thrilled to have producer and broadcaster, Brendan Courtney, present the Community Housing Awards 2019. Brendan’s recent documentary work has had a particular focus on housing affordability as well as the complex housing needs of older people. Brendan was delighted to present the awards to this year’s deserving winners.

Category: Housing for Older People – Small Scheme
Bandon Geriatric and Community Council.

This project was praised by judges for delivering excellent quality housing foe older people with a design that is sympathetic to the architecture style of the historic town-centre location. Each house is A3 rated, with innovative sustainability measures in place. areas. The houses are within easy walking distance of all facilities and tenants have described living there as “like winning the Lotto”.

Category: Housing for Older People – Large Scheme
Cork City Council – Arus Mhuire, Skehard Road, Blackrock, Cork

This scheme was praised by judges for its attractive design and making excellent use of a limited site – creating 30 new homes on the site of what was previously one derelict bungalow. A particular focus of this scheme was rightsizing – allowing older people to move out of larger homes into more appropriately sized accommodation with tailored services. This, in turn, freed up much needed family sized homes for social housing use throughout Cork City. 

Category: Housing for People with Disabilities
Irish Wheelchair Association – Na Fraoch, Logmore, Belmullet, Co. Mayo

This scheme was commended by judges for its innovative use of assistive technologies allowing tenants with physical disabilities to live independently and fully as part of a supportive and inclusive community. The integration of the units as part of the community in Belmullet, Co. Mayo was a particular feature of this scheme. It consists of 7 two-bedroom units of fully wheelchair usable housing.  Universal design principles have been utilised throughout to ensure future adaptations can be carried out as easily as possible. The homes are A3 rated and this scheme is a model of best practice housing for people with physical disabilities. 

Category: Housing for Families
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, George’s Place

This scheme was praised for its attractive design and its use of a brownfield site of an old council depot; creating a new streetscape and homes for 12 families. It is an excellent example of urban design and showcases how family housing can be provided in an urban area in a way that maximises the use of limited land. The units have an A1 BER rating and are designed to passive house standard. It is another example of rightsizing, with tenants coming from a variety of housing situations – downsizing, coming from overcrowded housing situations and exiting homelessness

Category: Regeneration
Peter Mc Verry Trust St Agatha’s Court Dublin 1.

In a category that was a particular challenge for the judges, St. Agatha’s Court was chosen as winner for a number of reasons – the judges felt there is huge scope to regenerate smaller-scale housing projects in this way. The regeneration although relatively small in scale, still involved significant work with the existing community to ensure their concerns and wishes were respected. The development involved reconfiguring the existing structure to make better use of space as well as new build elements at each end of the building.  The result is one and two bed apartments and a community of tenants exiting homelessness into permanent homes. 

Category: Most Creative Supply Response
Tuath and Dublin City Council – Harold’s Court, Dublin 12

This project involved Tuath Housing utilising its reserves to purchase a refurbished apartment block of 4 one-bed and 19 two-bed apartments in Dublin 12. Further financing was provided through a pension fund sale and leaseback. In purchasing it, they beat off offers from a private sector real estate investment trust who would have charged what Tuath’s Chief Executive describes as “eye-watering rents”.  Tuath and the judges believe this scheme is a proof of concept that can be replicated throughout the country and it represents a “sector fightback” – a small but significant step in combatting the affordability crisis 

Category: Collaboration Initiatives
Cork City Council and Cluid Leeside Apartments

This project involved a swift and effective collaborative response from Cluid Housing and Cork City Council to purchase a block of apartments in which all tenants were about to be evicted due to the landlord carrying out refurbishment. It was acknowledged that Cluid as the new landlord had carried out extensive improvement works on the apartments. The key element of this project which particularly impressed the judges was the quick response by both Cork City Council and Cluid to work together to bring this project to fruition. It prevented 78 tenants from becoming homeless and created new units of social housing stock in the centre of Cork City. 

Category: Community Integration in Housing
Foscadh Lia Bhreaga, The Twenties, Drogheda

This was another category which judges deliberated over extensively as there was huge merit in the shortlisted schemes. The winning project was chosen in recognition for the huge work Foscadh Housing Association have done in difficult circumstances – creating a safe haven in the midst of estates with significant feuding and anti-social behaviour which has made national news. Lia Bhreaga is a scheme of 69 turn-key homes providing housing for families, single people, older persons and people with additional support needs. There are 18 different nationalities housed here with over 20 languages spoken in the estate. There is a thriving community spirit in the estate with Foscadh working hard to sustain this with regular community events, support provided to tenants in their own language, initiatives to empower tenants to take ownership of their community, all of which have resulted in tenants forming strong bonds with each other and developing a thriving community.

Category: Housing Management Models
Clare County Council Planned Maintenance programme

The judges praised Clare County Council and its pro-active approach to managing its housing stock and creating a detailed live system of the state of every unit of social housing stock in the county. At a time when all housing providers are under pressure to deliver, Clare County Council was praised by the judges for taking such a positive and pro-active step in managing its existing stock. This model is one which the judges felt could and should be replicated in local authorities around the country. 

Category: Achievement in Community Housing

This award is a special recognition for achievement and commitment in housing by voluntary board member(s), individuals or local authority elected members demonstrating a high level of leadership in housing delivery and management over a sustained period. This year we shortlisted and recognised a number of very deserving recipients: 

1. Nuala Delaney Whelan, Manager of Ballycastle Voluntary Housing Association
For Nuala’s 20-year commitment to housing for the elderly in Ballycastle, as a volunteer and a staff member. In nominating her, Ballycastle Housing Association said “Nuala recognises that while we can supply a house for an elderly person it needs a community behind you to make it a home”
2. The Board of Caislean Nua Voluntary Housing Association
Caislean Nua or Newcastle Voluntary Housing Association was founded over 20 years ago and is run by committed group of volunteers providing high quality homes to local people in the parish of beautiful Newcastle in South Tipperary.
Originally the board were key to the planning and development of the homes at Deora Dé and now are key in sustaining what has become a source of pride in the village,  
3. The Board of Castleblaney Care Housing Association
The board of Castleblayney Care housing association have been central to what is without doubt a great success story for the entire county of Monaghan. The board, led by the determination of Sile Commiskey and Regina McCormick to provide high quality homes to vulnerable people and people with disabilities, are an example of continued enthusiasm, commitment and compassion, not just to provide housing, but to ensure that each tenant has a home and feels valued in their community. 
4. Fr. Patsy Carolan, Former Chair of Circle Voluntary Housing Association 
Fr Patsy has been a stalwart of the Circle organisation for the last 15 years. Without him Circle VHA would not exist today. In the very early days, he raised funds to ensure that staff were paid and that there were facilities for people to work from.  He has been instrumental as a voluntary director in leading and shaping Circle into the Housing Association that it is today. 
5. Éanna Mc Hugh, Former Chair of HAIL 
Eanna joined HAIL’s Board in 2003 and became the Chair in 2011. In his time working there, HAIL have seen their properties increase from 144 homes to what they anticipate will be 400 homes at the end of 2019.  In nominating Eanna, HAIL said “In our niche field of mental health, being primarily a special needs organisation, this has been significant growth for us and most importantly allowing us to provide a secure & safe environment for those most vulnerable in our society. His leadership has steered HAIL through what has been a constantly changing environment.”
6. Carmel Phelan, Manager of Hugh Gore Institute
The Hugh Gore Institute nominated Carmel for this award for her tireless work in ensuring the upgrading works of a famous listed building in Waterford; Widows apartments’, is the longest continually occupied building in Waterford. In nominating Carmel, the Institute said, “The fact that our residents now have functional windows together with smart storage heaters is purely down to the dedication, determination and hard work done by Carmel Phelan., and” We can safely say that without Carmel, these works would not have happened”
7. Pat Lennon, Former Chair, North and East Housing Association
Pat Lennon is a founder member, first Secretary and former Chairperson of North & East Housing Association. Along with several close friends, Pat saw first-hand the difficulties experienced by many in accessing housing in the late 1980s and wanted to make a difference. After several meetings held in their homes, North & East Housing Association was incorporated in 1993 and its first housing development comprised 12 homes in Killegland in Ashbourne in 1995. One of his final acts as Chairperson was to usher in the 25th Anniversary of North & East where he noted that “We have come a long way since 1993 but we remain true to our roots as an Association committed to its tenants and to developing sustainable communities.” 
Finally, the winners of this award were announced to be Sean Kelleher and Dan Dineen, Chairperson and Treasurer of Coiste Tithe Uibh Laoire whose creativity and imagination stand out in the application. These two community activists and their board worked to enhance and revive their community, by delivering housing for the elderly, a range of services and supports for young and old. They have ensured the long-term sustainability of their community and have attracted other people and business to the village.

The 2019 ICSH/Allianz Community Housing Awards – Meet the Shortlist!

This year we received the largest number of entries ever – more than 50 –  in the history of the competition. We have travelled to the 4 proud provinces; we have visited 16 counties (some counties have several sites entered in the competition). We visited 18 sites in Dublin and 7 sites in Cork. We have been to the Gaeltacht in Cork and Mayo, to the most southerly and westerly parts of the Island and dipped our toes in the Irish Sea and the Atlantic.

Every category in the competition has entries, the most competitive categories being Housing for Older People and Housing for People with Disabilities. We had record numbers of entries from Local Authorities and we have learned so much during the shortlisting process What stands out is the quality of social housing being delivered, the design, the assistive technologies in use and the the attention to sustainability and renewable sources of energy. What is also clear is the importance of the social/community dimension to social housing projects, the support services, tenant involvement and overall quality of life and the integration of international communities and its contribution to community cohesion. Congratulations to all the entries.


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