Co-operative housing, properly managed, can play its part in resolving the housing crisis in Ireland. Indeed, in partnership with Local Authorities it may be the only way to provide affordable housing.

Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance CLG. (Ó Cualann) is a voluntary housing co-operative, with Approved Housing Body status. A ‘not for profit’ company, limited by guarantee we are governed by a voluntary board of management. 
The Alliance is based on the principles of co-housing: 'Building Communities - not just Houses’, and envisages developing fully integrated communities where ‘owner members’ will live side by side with ‘tenant members’ in social, voluntary and private rented homes, sharing common amenities.

The community agrees, before construction commences, on the needs and desires of the community and on the rights and obligations of the members, both owners and tenants, all of whom sign a common charter.

Ó Cualann will work with like-minded partners in order to realise our common goals of providing homes at an affordable price in sustainable mixed income communities.

There is a clear need for both Private & Social housing in the Greater Dublin area. In a research note published on Aug 5 2014, The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) says we need to build about 12,500 units a year up to 2021: 
Dr Edgar Morgenroth of the ESRI maintains that the property market has a huge oversupply in rural parts of the country, but shortages on the east coast.
Most houses are needed in Dublin, with demand also in Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow. There will be “significant” housing shortages in the capital and its surrounds unless building levels begin to pick up rapidly. 

“Of the 90,000 additional housing units required between 2011 and 2021, over 60pc (54,000 units) are needed in Dublin and a further 26pc are needed in counties Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow. “Thus the requirement for additional housing units is projected to be highly concentrated in the Greater Dublin area,” Dr Morgenroth said. 
“Most of the building of homes last year was actually outside of Dublin.
Only 1,360 units were completed in the capital. Now there is a need for thousands more units in the Dublin region alone.”

“Given that the total number of housing completions recorded in the Greater Dublin Area during the 2011-2013 period is below what is needed to meet demand, this will result in significant housing shortages in the Greater Dublin Area if the rate of housing completions does not increase rapidly.”
The rate of construction across the east coast should be around 12,500 a year up to 2021. Ó Cualann has identified a cooperative project in Poppintree, Ballymun and we are currently in discussions with Dublin City Council with a view to delivering 40 private co-operative homes for people living or working the vicinity of Ballymun.

The project which is situated close to IKEA and the M50 motorway has full planning for 40 homes and lapsed permission for a further 32 homes. The homes are a combination of: 
End of terrace, 4 bedroomed, 134.70 sq. m, three storey houses with front & rear gardens ,
End of terrace, 3 bedroomed, 128.20 sq. m, three storey houses with front & rear gardens and Mid terrace, 3 bedroomed, 128.20 sq. m, three storey houses with front & rear gardens. Roads and services are already in place for all 72 homes and so this project is ‘ready to go’. The project is expected to take 18 months to complete

Education and community development will be key components of the strategy and community development practices will be employed to ensure the maximum participation of the members, effective communication among the members and between the members and the wider community.

We envisage building fully integrated communities in partnership with local Authorities and other interested parties. We aim to provide for an integrated mix of ages, incomes, ethnicity and ability – all living side by side in houses allocated, bought or rented on the basis of the needs and desires of the proposed occupants. The exact mix will depend of the social mix already in the area and the needs of the local authorities.

The objective includes common facilities including a common vegetable and fruit garden; playground; green space in a well landscaped park with benches, tables etc. It may also include a common house in schemes of fifty units or more. We aim to achieve a balance of individual and shared spaces.

Everything about the Alliance and the developments must be to best international practice for mixed income developments, incl. governance, security of tenure, education, design, engineering, use of alternative energy, water harvesting, composting, insulation etc.

The completed developments will be managed by Ó Cualann with input from the Local Authority and partner organisations.

Ó Cualann are currently carrying out initial discussions with Local Authorities and other interested parties whose ethos is closest to that of Ó Cualann.

Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance looks forward to fruitful discussions with local authorities and others who share our vision of providing affordable homes in sustainable, mixed income communities in Ireland.