Thursday 20 June 2019

More public housing only solution to crisis

Cllr Chris MacManus
Cllr Chris MacManus
Cllr Declan Bree

Sorcha Crowley at Sligo County Council Budget meeting

The only real solution to the housing crisis in Sligo is a massive public housing building programme run ad controlled by the local authorities.

That's according to Independent Councillor Declan Bree who was echoed by Sinn Féin Councillor Chris MacManus.

Cllr Bree welcomed the decision by the Department of Local Government to approve plans to build 14 homes on the Rosses Point Road and 15 in Collooney.

Director of Services for Housing Bartley Gavin told Cllr Bree that they were hoping to start construction work on the new houses in Rosses Point "any day" and hoped to sign the contract this week.

They're expected to take a year to build, while the Collooney homes, also due to start soon, will take 15 months to build.

Other housing schemes being built by the Council include 28 units on the Knappagh Road and ten new houses at Connolly Park, Tubbercurry.

The Council is also piloting a 'Near Zero Energy Building standard' three bedroom detached house at 94 (a) St Joseph's Terrace this winter.

Several other schemes are continuing to go through the planning process next year, including ten houses at St Fanan's Drive, Dromore West, a development at Maugheraboy and 20 units at Carrowbunnanun.

Gavin also said fewer landlords were offering their properties for contract renewals, leading to declining numbers of RAS units available.

Cllr Bree pointed to the fact that the Council had already paid private landlords €2.4 million in Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and almost €3 million under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) so far this year.

"In real terms, these payments are not subsidising tenants, they are subsidising private landlords," said Cllr Bree.

Cllr MacManus said that three years ago you could rent a 3-bed house for €550 but defied anyone to find a 3-bed house for less than €800 a month now.

"Show me someone in this town whose income went up by 30-40%" he said.

Cllr MacManus said now that rents had "sky rocketed" landlords could "pick and choose" tenants online so that landlords could circumvent the fact that it's illegal not to take someone on HAP/RAS.

Sligo Champion