Sunday, 24th September 2017
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House Emergency?

Or simply failure to supply Housing...

dear editor,

I was recently reading a front page article titled “Housing Emergency.” It’s hard to see how any politician from this government’s persuasion, or previous governments, could refer to the lack of housing available to the Local Authority as an “emergency” given that present and previous governments, and Local Authorities, have failed, and failed miserably to build the required number of social houses needed and to take into account the projected number of people who would be requiring housing in the future and those who are coming from other EU countries and who fulfil the criteria to be deemed to be in need of housing. An emergency is something which presents itself without warning; not something that has been tolerated for the past number of years which has brought us to the current under supply of social housing.

We don’t have 775 people “homeless” in Waterford, we have 775 people languishing on the Local Authority housing list. The vast majority are in subsidised private rented accommodation; they are not homeless as it will be deemed their current housing needs have been met. Although it is taking a reported 21 weeks to turn around vacant Local Authority houses, at least when the new tenants moves in they will be living in fully refurbished, very liveable and safe houses. Spare a though for those who are under the Housing Assistance Payment (H.A.P), lucky enough to find accommodation in the first instance, they could have to wait for up to eight months after the first H.A.P payment is made for it to be inspected by a local authority official. This is something our TDs could lobby to have changed - that accommodation is inspected and approved before the tenant moves in. Tenants are afraid to leave sub-standard accommodation with little alternative accommodation available.

Governments sat back and instead of building social housing shifted its focus onto subsidising tenants in private accommodation and relying on the voluntary and community housing sector to supply houses. Just before the “Celtic Tiger” died a death in 2007, Local Authorities throughout Ireland built 4,986 homes. This number fell to 4,905 in 2008. And in 2009 = 3362, 2010 = 1328, 2011 = 486, 2012 = 363, 2013 = 293, 2014 = 158 and just 75 in 2015. This is not a “Homeless Emergency” but a “housing supply shambles” facilitated by this and previous governments housing policy and lack of investment in social housing.

Yours sincerely

Donal Barry

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