Chinese philanthropists amass €50m fund for social housing in Ireland



the founder of a leading not-for-profit housing organisation has secured funding commitments in excess of €50m from Chinese philanthropists to help alleviate Ireland’s housing crisis.

Businessman David Hall, the founder of iCare Housing, will travel to China next month to meet with the cohort of philanthropists who “want to pledge significant sums of money to help increase Ireland’s social housing supply” by allowing iCare to avail of endowments through the State’s Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP).

In exchange for their endowment investments, the Chinese philanthropists would be entitled to apply for residency in Ireland.

The State’s so-called ‘cash-for-visa’ programme, which has attracted more than €500m from overseas investors, has been mired in controversy and is now the subject of a two part review.

The IIP, which is dominated by Chinese applicants, grants residency visas to those who invest a minimum of €1m into Government-approved schemes, including bonds, endowments and enterprises. Applicants can also apply to invest via a Reit with a minimum €2m investment, which must be held for at least three years from the date of purchase. Hall said he is seeking clarity from the Department of Justice to clarify whether the Chinese investors can use the endowment arm of the IIP to donate to iCare. The Department of Justice says that in 2017 alone, 33 applications for 14 projects to the value of €33m were approved in respect of social housing projects.

“Applications are assessed on the basis of a number of factors including the overall benefit to the State, the profile of the applicant, the commercial viability of the project, and employment outcomes associated with the proposed investment,” said a spokesperson.

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