Wednesday 23 January 2019

Two year wait for houses too long

David Looby

The sluggish pace of social house building in the county was criticised as being ridiculous at last week's meeting of Wexford County Council.

Cllr John Fleming said it takes over two years for houses to be approved to be built.

'This is way too long to get approval from the department. Have there been any moves on the part of the department to speed this up?'

Senior Housing Officer Padraig O'Gorman said the Department of Housing has made improvements so now there is a 59 week period from when an estate is announced to when it is built.

'We are into that process now. We won't know exactly for a year or so if there has been an improvement.'

Director of Services for Economic Development Tony Larkin praised Mr O'Gorman and John Carley for delivering on their pledge to develop the housing programme.

Mr Carley said the council will be paid for any houses they apply for once the paperwork is correct. 'We are getting better and better at the streamlining of our paperwork,' he said.

Cllr David Hynes criticised the Government for abandoning its social housing programme. '25 years ago they decided they were't going to build social houses and now they are trying to play catch up.'

He said people are forced into flats where they have no security of tenure and can be evicted if they complain about the conditions. 'We don't have enough emergency accommodation to deal with it and the mental health problems this is causing and now to get a lecture from someone in the department about policies inherited from Thatcher and Reagan. The joke is on the unfortunate people who get a letter or a text message telling them to get out of here.'

Cllr Michael Sheehan said there is an over-reliance on leasing while Cllr Fionntáin O Suilleabháin said the planning process is far too cumbersome and protracted.

Cllr Willie Kavanagh praised the council on opening new state-of-the-art houses in Oylegate to children with special needs. Cllr Johnny Mythen said HAP and RAS have failed people who, he said, have no security of tenure.

'They don't know what school to send thier child to. We are dealing with Irish families, all sorts of families here.'

Mr O'Gorman said the department is placing less emphasis on leasing. Last year the local authority bought 121 houses to leases, compared to 80 this year and Mr O'Gorman said next year the number of houses bought will fall to around 20. Chairman Cllr John Hegarty said the councillors attended a special meeting on the housing crisis six months ago. 'The overriding message that came from Padraig and John was that they had a plan and to give them time and they have exceeded their targets,' he said.

CEO Tom Enright praised the housing management team and staff on their initiative. He said there is no greater satisfaction for a council official than to see people being housed as happened disabled children who have been accomodated in purpose built houses in Oylegate.

Mr Enright said there is a new system whereby the council can deliver turnkey houses quicker.

'We are going to exceed our target this year.'

Wexford People

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