Sinn Féin Councillor Imelda Munster has warned that “the lack of delivery of social housing coupled with the chronic shortage of private rented accommodation in Drogheda and throughout Louth are compounding the housing crisis in the county and will without doubt, lead to more and more people presenting themselves as homeless.”
Cllr Munster, who will be running for Sinn Féin in the upcoming general election stated “we now have the highest number ever on the housing waiting list with 1,907 applicants in Drogheda and 4,764 applicants overall in Louth with many waiting over 8 years to be housed”.
The Drogheda Councillor hit out at the government’s HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) scheme which promised to address the crisis when it was introduced. “The current government policy is to force people in to private rented accommodation ignoring the fact that there is a chronic shortage of private rental property locally. Under this HAP scheme, people on the housing waiting list are being transferred over to HAP and into private rented accommodation and then the government deem their housing need to have been met.”
So what does that mean for families? Cllr Munster explained “families or individuals will forever be living in private rented houses at the mercy of private landlords and the taxpayer paying eternally with no return for their money. Some landlords are taking advantage of the shortage by increasing rents, some by as much as several hundred euros a month, forcing people who simply cannot afford the huge increases out on to the streets.”
In the last few weeks, twenty people presented themselves as homeless to Louth County Council, fifteen of who were there for financial reasons. “there are home re-possessions and increases in private rents. The tenants are forced out of their home and because of the chronic shortage of private rented property, they find themselves with nowhere to go”.
Cllr Munster concluded by saying “When are the government going to see that this policy is not working and indeed compounding the housing crisis? It cannot be resolved until they roll out a direct social housing building programme, introduce rent controls which would help stem the rising tide of homelessness, and amend the Land Conveyancing Act to give greater protection to the family home”.