independent

Friday 27 April 2018

Build don't buy to help families

By david Looby

Cllr Michael Sheehan.
Cllr Michael Sheehan.
Cllr Davy Hynes.
Cllr Lisa McDonald.
Cllr Joe Sullivan.

Wexford County Council's policy of buying houses in great numbers across the county is affecting the market, Cllr Michael Sheehan claimed.

The New Ross councillor said: 'People can't afford houses because they are competing with the county council. We are buying blocks of houses, four or five at a time, styming buyers. There are units across the county, including 16 units at the Mercy Convent (in New Ross) which are ideal (for tenants). There are blocks of apartments idle. There seems to be no radical or urgent movement to fit people into the system. The B&Bs are booked up due to all the people presenting. It's no way to raise a family.'

Cllr Sheehan said he knows of people living in cars and on streets. 'People can't get access into the housing services. There are close to 5,000 vacant properties in this county. It's not about going into an auction and block buying houses. I am convinced we are not putting enough aggression into getting this sorted once and for all.'

Cllr Lisa McDonald agreed with her party colleague, saying: 'I am very disappointed about what is being outlined by the council here. Private rental housing is not the answer and we are going to free up more and more people to get eviction notices. Some want to sell these houses. I'm getting fed up saying that we as the council need to build our own houses. We built no houses last year.'

Cllr McDonald said Louth County Council have CPO'd 35 houses and are about to CPO 35 more. 'If we deal with the people on the bottom with the dire need; the people who are receiving eviction notices. People like me are telling them to stay in their houses and ignore the letters. We will have a lot more social and mental health issues (if this issue isn't resolved urgently). We need a special meeting. I deal with the people crying to me who have been evicted.'

Cllr McDonald said HAP does not work. 'We need to come up with our own solutions as a council. We are a housing authority so we need to bloody well go ahead and do this.'

Cllr Hynes said: 'This started with the Progressive Democrats who said "let the market look after it".'

Cllr Joe Sullivan the council can address some of the problems. 'I know three houses that are owned by Wexford County Council and have been vacant for a long time (from October 2016 until May 2017). Another five houses are vacant now. We're in an emergency. We need get these houses allocated and people into them. I know three house owners who got tired trying to deal with Wexford County Council. They've gone back into the private market.'

Cllr John Fleming said the problem is builders cannot make enough profit building in the county. He said councillors would love to see housing developments built in the county's four districts, while Cllr Willie Kavanagh said grants should be made available for people to build granny flats to live beside family members at home.

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