Housing programme progress is remarkable, says Enright
WEXFORD County Council says almost 2,800 social housing units will be delivered in the county between 2017 and 2019.
Council Chief Executive Tom Enright told the behind-closed-doors meeting that the council's progress in delivering the housing programme was 'remarkable'.
The reassurance on housing delivery was given at a special council meeting arranged at the request of members who were seeking reassurance that the targets set out in the council's housing programme would be achieved.
Councillors had asked for the meeting to be advised of any possible delays or issues that might impact on in the delivery of each of the housing options within the council's housing programme, and sought an update on the number of units progressed through the various stages of delivery.
Senior housing officials told the meeting that housing programme is proceeding as planned, however, former mayor Cllr George Lawlor criticised the time it took from concept to the creation of new houses, saying it was 'like turning an oil tanker in Wexford Harbour'.
'We need to accelerate the programme more.
'We as a council need to build more of our own housing and not rely on a private sector that is too volatile and greedy.. we are still in a crisis siuation when it comes to housing.
'In the Wexford district alone there are more than 900 people on the waiting list,' he told this newspaper.
Council chairman Cllr John Hergarty said social housing needs were at a critical level.
The government's Housing Strategy 2020 has an Exchequer funding commitment of €5.7bn over the lifetime of the Strategy.
Wexford County Council expects to spend in excess of €200 million from this fund in the delivery of its Social Housing Programme 2017 to 2019.
'All of the targets set out in the council's three-year Programme are expected to be achieved, with almost 2,800 social housing units to be delivered in County Wexford in the period 2017 to 2019,' said the council's communications manager David Minogue.
Director of Housing and Community Services John Carley and Senior Housing Officer Padraig O'Gorman presented a detailed progress report to the meeting.
The report outlined the various initiatives available to those seeking housing support and showed that strong progress had made by the council in the delivery of each aspect of the programme:
These include Construction, Leasing, Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), Rental Assistance Scheme, Voluntary Housing Bodies, Purchases, Turnkey Projects, Repair and Lease, Part Fives and others.
It also highlighted the obligation of the council to obtain departmental approval to each of the four stages in the delivery of a new housing project, including approval to advance the scheme, approval to commence detailed design, approval of detailed design and cost estimates and approval of the tender report.
Mr Minogue said the report indicated that delays in receiving approvals had been reduced with a marked improvement in turnaround times in relation to all schemes on hand.
The meeting was attended by representatives of a number of voluntary housing agencies who provide social housing in County Wexford.
The include Respond, Clúid, Co-Operative Housing Ireland, Tuath and Oaklee Housing.
Mr Enright told members that the delivery of almost 900 units in a single year represents a very strong performance by any standard, 'but I want to reassure the Members that we are not resting on these laurels.
'Rather we will continue to apply the necessary resources and drive each of these projects forward to ensure that the council meets its obligations and fully achieves the challenging targets set out in this three year programme, and in turn significantly reduces the numbers of families currently seeking housing support,' he said.
Welcoming the update, Cllr Hegarty said the provision of adequate and appropriate housing solutions is Wexford County Council's single most important priority.
'There is no single or easy solution to meeting the social housing needs of the public, which are at a critical level.
'What is required is a two-fold response - direct provision of a wide range of social housing supports, combined with the availability of accessible and affordable private accommodation.
'This is the structure and direction of Wexford County Council's three-year Housing Programme which we reviewed today.'