A TOTAL of 40 families in mortgage arrears in Kildare were rescued over the last year by iCare Housing, according to recent figures they have released.
Established by the Irish Mortgage Holders’ Association (IMHO) in 2017, the nationwide not-for-profit housing association aims to resolve mortgage arrears involving people in long-term distress and who qualify for social housing support. Essentially, the organisation buys suitable homes from banks in cases where the mortgage holder can’t pay their mortgage and are also eligible for social housing, working in partnership with AIB and the government.
At the time it was set up iCare pledged to resolve 500 cases, but is now on the cusp of rescuing up to 600 mortgage holders in difficulties. A further 250 homes are set to enter the pipeline.
“These are people who, in the absence of this scheme, will lose their home and will be evicted, they’ll end up in homeless services and in emergency accommodation in Kildare,” David Hall, CEO of iCare and a well-known opponent of vulture funds, told the Kildare Nationalist.
During the process, a house in mortgage arrears is sold to iCare at a substantial discount and iCare will then rent the house back to qualifying owners. The homeowner agrees a 30-year lease with iCare and those renting their former home can repurchase it at any point for the price the organisation paid, though they can’t sell the property on or borrow “irresponsibly” to buy it back.
These deals are negotiated with the IMHO, experts in dealing with distressed mortgages who have negotiated deals with banks on behalf of thousands of mortgage holders. The scheme has been described as one which secures the trust of distressed mortgage holders, respects moral hazards, doesn’t cost the State anything extra, eases the pressures on social housing, and clears the banks’ balance sheets.
Mr Hall described it as a “common sense approach” to dealing with people who have come up against obstacles and cannot afford their mortgage, such as issues surrounding family relationships, employment, and health, and said that they are finding a “significant” number of people in Kildare who are eligible.
Recent results, he has said, highlight the fact that there is a better way to deal with the issue, a sustainable solution for “families living under a shadow”.
The figures, he stated, show that there is a real alternative to vulture funds, and he explained that iCare is aware of the deep concern about these funds “invading our countryside”.
“We are very much open for business,” Mr Hall said, “but people need to contact us at 1800 233 244 or [email protected]”
He urged people from Kildare to get in touch with iCare if they’re in trouble, noting that the organisation intends on helping a lot more families who are in difficulties across the county.
“But you must contact us,” he added. “A silent priest never got a parish.”