1991 - 2010: Modernisation & Growth
The 1990’s saw the beginning of progress being made in starting much needed modernisation and refurbishment work. This was helped enormously by the increasingly significant financial support coming from government in the form of grant funding. A phased refurbishment programme of the Iveagh Hostel commenced, costing £2 million, with an initial grant from the Department of the Environment of £1.5m. This was helped by generous donations received from a number of sources including £50,000 received from Lord Moyne and another £50,000 from Guinness Ireland, as well as £20,000 from People in Need. Work had also started to refurbish blocks L, M & N on Kevin Street Estate at a cost of £1.2m, mostly funded by bank loan finance. This was followed in later years by refurbishment work to blocks A, B, C, D, E, F and G. A further donation of £80,000 from Lord Moyne was especially welcome, particularly so as interest on bank borrowings was charged at anywhere between 10.5% & 16.6% during that time.
Passing of Lord Iveagh & Lord Moyne
Significant changes to the way the Board of Trustees operated began to be implemented following the double loss to the Trust of Lord Iveagh (Benjamin Iveagh) & Lord Moyne (Hon. Bryan W. Guinness), both of whom died in 1992, having served as Chair’s of the Board of Trustees from 1975 – 1992 & 1962 – 1975 respectively. It was always agreed that the connection to the founder’s family would be maintained with Guinness family members, including Miranda, Lady Iveagh, continuing to serve as Trustees. Efforts were also made at this time to recruit individuals with specific skills, experience and ability to help deal with the increasing complexity of the business.
Through a combination of government grants and subsidised loans in addition to the Trust’s own resources along with bank loans, by the end of the decade all of the previously empty blocks on Kevin Street Estate were modernised and again housing families in need. The Iveagh Hostel had also undergone a transformation and now offered residents their own room as well as other facilities such as laundry and the use of kitchens on each floor. Residents of the sheltered housing scheme in Mount Anthony also benefitted from improvement works including the installation of a lift.
New Century – Renewed Ambition
At the beginning of the new century, the outlook of the Trust, in keeping with the mood in the country generally was positive and ambitious. As government funding for the provision of new social housing became more accessible, Trustees saw the opportunity in using this funding to deal with the need to replace the roofs on blocks S-Z on the Kevin Street Estate. Planning permission was granted and work began in the summer of 2000 to construct a mansard roof containing 45 one bedroom apartments. This set the tone, and over the next few years the Trust embarked upon a period of significant new property development and refurbishment work.
Expanding our Team
In order to deal with the increased level of activity a number of new posts were created and additional finance and administrative staff recruited. As well as the new positions of Director of Finance and Development Manager, Gene Clayton was appointed in 2003 to succeed Fred Stephens as Chief Executive when Fred retired from the Trust after 44 years of service. This increase in staff numbers led to the construction of a new extension to the Trust’s Bull Alley street office building, using a bank loan to finance the development. As well as additional office space, it included a new Boardroom and three one bedroom apartments for pensioners. It also now provided much improved facilities for visiting tenants and included full disabled access.
Between 2001 and 2010, 416 new housing units were built. More than half of these were in new estates to the north of Dublin City, way outside the traditional Iveagh Trust heartland of the Liberties. Applewood Estate in Swords, Co. Dublin was officially opened in June 2005, containing 110 apartments. Development at Clongriffin, Donaghmede followed in 2 phases, adding a further 75 units. Adjacent to the Clongriffin site, 55 units at Marrsfield were acquired under a leasing scheme with Dublin City Council and have been under the management of the Trust since 2008. Closer to the city centre, 50 units at Elveden House on Cork Street, Dublin 8 were officially opened in the Autumn of 2010.
Safeguarding our Heritage
Significantly, 160 existing Iveagh Trust apartments were completely refurbished to modern standards. The majority of these were done as part of a comprehensive refurbishment of the Bull Alley Estate. Trustees have always taken seriously their responsibility of looking after the protected structures which make up a good proportion of the housing stock. During this period of investment, care was always taken to ensure that the existing stock had maximum benefit from the available funding resources, particularly the protected strcutures which make up such an important part of the architectural heritage of Dublin City. For example, following a 7 year comprehensive refurbishment programme, almost €16m was spent on the Bull Alley Estate. By the end of the decade some €88m had been invested through the Iveagh Trust in social housing in Dublin.
At the end of 2010, the Board received distressing news that fellow Trustee and supporter of the Iveagh Trust – Miranda, Countess of Iveagh, had died. Miranda had been a Trustee for 40 years. Her continued dedication, support and her unwavering commitment during that time contributed greatly to the Trust’s growth and development. Miranda had the foresight and generosity to provide funds to purchase the contents of Nellie Molloy’s flat, now a museum, that realistically captures how lives were lived by Iveagh Trust tenants at the beginning of the 20th century. Miranda loved to visit Iveagh Trust estates and the tenants who lived there. She had a particular interest in the sheltered housing complex at Mount Anthony, Rathmines. The tenants there have fond memories of spending time with Miranda during her many visits to various events, the last being a tea party hosted by the tenants to celebrate her 70th birthday. Her final public engagement, which she attended despite her illness, was the official opening of Elveden House, Cork Street, a 50 unit social housing development.
As a result of the dramatic and swift change of fortunes in the Irish economy, the basis for funding the provision of social housing which previously existed has disappeared. The previous grant funding system has been replaced by a private finance regime where housing associations are required to raise finance themselves from banks and other financial institutions. The Iveagh Trust was at the forefront of this new regime and put forward a proposal for financing the completion of the final phase of redevelopment of the Mount Anthony Estate, now known as the Payment & Availability Agreement. This lease based model has now become established as the financing mechanism used to fund the procurement of social housing in Ireland. The Trust continues to seek out suitable, viable opportunities to meet the needs of people who require an affordable place to live in Dublin.