In April 2013, Hugh Brennan met Bill Black by chance in a small bicycle shop in Bray. The two began talking and realised they shared the opinion that Ireland was in need of an initiative to deliver affordable and fully-integrated housing. By October, the idea had been tested and the first meeting of potential members for a new cooperative had been scheduled.
Set against the backdrop of a continuing housing crisis, Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance CLG (Ó Cualann) were in talks with county councils to get approval for our Model. By 2015, the foundations of the Ó Cualann Model for affordable housing were being put into place. The team was looking at financial models, meeting with housing agencies, financiers and construction teams. Talks were continuing with DCC about the site at Poppintree and central points such as building costs and a rent-to-buy scheme were being discussed.
Architects, engineers and all professionals involved agreed to defer their fees until the inaugural project was underway. This gave Ó Cualann the necessary leeway to proceed our work.
By 2017, construction was well underway. The team was busy with project management, site-meetings, liaising with members and the Local Authority, and engaging with the housing and charities regulators. By December 2017, phase one was completed and the members were in their new homes in time for Christmas. By December 2018, all 49 houses of Ó Cualann’s inaugural project in Poppintree were completed and handed over to the residents. Ó Cualann is looking to the future. By 2020, Ó Cualann would like to be on-site with 500 houses under construction on various sites around the country.