Thursday 18 January 2018

Public meeting to address Gorey's escalating housing crisis

Cllr Joe Sullivan
Cllr Joe Sullivan

Esther Hayden

A public meeting has been organised in Gorey to deal with the housing crisis being experienced in North Wexford.

The meeting which takes place tomorrow (Wednesday) night in the Loch Garman Arm at 8 p.m. was organised by Fianna Fail.

Cllr Joe Sullivan said he felt he was left with no option but to organise the meeting to deal with the increasing number of people locked out of the property market.

'I am well aware that there is a cohort of people who are simply not being listened to and who haven't a hope of being housed. They have basically been abandoned by the housing authority. 'I'm talking about people who are earning an income of around €30,000, people paying rent and supporting a family. These people are being left out and are not being listened to. They have no voice and this meeting has been organised to give them a voice.

'I want to hear them and to bring their voices to the attention of officials in the Wexford housing department.

'This meeting won't be a council bashing meeting however, The idea is to bring these people's plight to the attention of the council to see what the council can do for them.

'I've seen it said that we need 200 social houses in Wexford and while that may be true overall everyone only wants one house and we have to treat each house as a priority. To that end we have to turnover our housing stock in a shorter space of space. Superficial works must be completed within three weeks to help house a family in crisis quickly.

'We've been told in the past that garda vetting of tenants is slowing down the process of filling houses but we could have ten families vetted in advance and when a house becomes available the first ten people in the list would be pre-vetted.

'I previously laid down a notice of motion calling for this. In July 2016 I laid down a notice of motion asking that rent supplements in Wexford and particularly in Gorey be re-examined as they are very low compared to other parts of the country.

'In the mid 2000s the top rate in Wexford was €736.66. The top rate today is €600 while a few miles away in Carnew which is equidistant from Dublin as Gorey the top rate there is €770.

'In line with national policy Wexford currently has a number of housing schemes in operation - RAS, HAP, renew and lease and leasing to name a few. However I'm not satisfied that the housing section of Wexford County Council is proactive enough in promoting these schemes.

'They should be liaising with estate agents and letting agents in a bid to accumulate as much property as they possibly can. Instead they are very much paper bound schemes and because of council officialdom it is up to landlords and property owners to pursue them rather than the other way around.

'We are now dealing with a housing crisis which requires immediate action. We have had a situation in Gorey recently where a certain number of houses have been allocated to people from outside the district despite the fact there are 800 people on the housing list within the district.

'That's a slap in the face to those 800 people in my opinion.

'Projected housing figures for the period 2017 to 2019 show that 19 houses are to be built within that period. But as of today these have not been delivered or even started. 62 homes were projects as Part 5 houses but planning permission was refused for 34 homes across three projects leaving the figure at 38 homes and none of these have been delivered to date either as far as I'm aware.

'With this meeting we hope to bring the attention of the housing executives to the plight of people who are struggling with securing housing. People have a basic right to housing. Since the foundation of the State we have been building social housing and it always formed part of the budget.

'In 2005 6,500 houses were built nationally. In 2015 75 houses were built nationally.

'We need solutions to the housing problem and I believe we need to manage our own stock with efficiency and competence getting the maximum return on the money we've invested. The answer to this is occupancy. Vacant houses cost money, occupied houses make money.

'We also need to embark on a building programme over the next three years building 200 houses to complement those which will be built as Part 5 of private development housing obligations. We need affordable housing for people who are in a position to service a mortgage but can't get the fiscal space to accumulate the deposit required to get on the housing ladder'

The public meeting on housing will take place in the Loch Garman Arms on Wednesday, September 27, at 8 p.m. All are welcome and there will be opportunity to air your views.

Gorey Guardian

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