Cllr Joanna Byrne: Turnaround of Vacant Properties must be a priority

Speaking at Louth County Council’s July meeting, Sinn Féin Councillor and Chairperson of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) Joanna Byrne raised the issue of an increase yet again in the number of Vacant Properties in the County,

Cllr Byrne said “This month sees yet another increase in the number of vacant properties the council is in possession of, with additional houses in both un-tenanted & un-occupied requiring major and minor works in refurbishing. It must become a priority for the local authority to get these up to allocation standard, considering the housing shortage in this county. What is the delay in turning these around, is it money or manpower?”

Director of Services, Joe McGuinness, agreed with Cllr Byrne that there was an increase with the percentage of Stock Vacant going from the usual 0.27% to 2.44% and it is an issue that he and his team are currently focusing on. A surge in abandoned properties and the amount of properties acquired through the CPO process coming into fruition have contributed to the increase.

Speaking afterwards Cllr Byrne said: “No amount of vacant properties is acceptable to me, let alone 83 of them. That’s 83 families that could be taken out of emergency accommodation or off the housing waiting list and given their forever home. Louth County Council need to now focus on turning these vacant properties around and making them a priority for allocation. I will be monitoring this issue very closely and will keep pressing the officials until I see them all completed and allocated.”

 

Munster: Lack of funding leaves elderly prisoners in their own homes

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has hit out at the government for their practice of leaving elderly people and those with disabilities to languish as prisoners in their own home.

Highlighting figures that show that the total budget allocation for Housing Adaptation Grants for Louth is down almost half a million euro on last year Deputy Munster raised the matter in the Dáil today.

Deputy Munster said:

‘We’re halfway through 2018 and there are already 267 applications so far plus 95 carried over from 2017 making a total of 362. The allocated budget will only cover 123 of these which means that Louth County Council will need extra funding of €1,840,004 to clear the remaining applications.

Despite claims in their Programme for a Partnership Government that they value and will facilitate the continued independent living in their own homes for the elderly and People with a Disability they are slow to release the necessary funds. Instead they leave hundreds of people to struggle for survival in their substandard homes.

This is reflected in almost daily representations being made in my Drogheda constituency office as in constituency offices all over the country by elderly and disabled people, or their families on their behalf, for downstairs bathrooms, stair-lifts, bedrooms or wet rooms to enable them to continue living in their own homes.

Additional funding needs to be released immediately to Louth County Council to clear these remaining applications.’

 

Cassidy Hits Out At Vacant Houses While Families Wait For Homes

Alan CassidySinn Féin Councillor Alan Cassidy has hit out at Louth County Council’s Housing Department for its lack of action in Drogheda. With over 1,600 applicants in Drogheda alone and over 4,500 throughout County Louth, the situation is regarded as a ‘crisis’.

Council officials have informed the Tallanstown Councillor that they are allocating houses to those who have been on the waiting list for an average of 7-8 years as they become available.

Roughly 30% of the social housing stock is in the form of Voluntary Housing Associations.

Speaking today, Councillor Cassidy said it was “extremely frustrating that when people are crying out for homes, there are boarded up houses in the same area of the town. For example, there are two houses in Rowan Heights, one of which has been boarded up now for over five months. I have been approached by a number of families regarding these houses, who have been on the list for seven years and yet when I make representations to the Council I get a stock answer. These people are told that yes, you are a qualified applicant and it is just a case of waiting until a property becomes available in your area. They then walk past these boarded up properties. It is so frustrating”.

Last month Fellow Sinn Féin Councillor Imelda Munster, expressed her anger at nearly €3 million being taken out of the Council budget every year for the next 25 years, to pay for loans (interest only) on land reserved to build social housing.

Councillor Cassidy continued, “Labour Ministers have met with council officials and put the onus on the council to house those in need, yet the council are reliant on government funding to build new units. It beggars belief. Surely if we took the interest payment of almost €3 million for just one year and put it into opening up these boarded up houses and building new stock, it would alleviate the problem somewhat in this area.”

Concluding, Alan Cassidy said “we need to remember who these people are. They are not just statistics on a list. Every one of them has a story, a life, a family, hopes and dreams for the future just like anyone else. They are people. They are human beings and deserved to be treated with dignity.”

Boarded up home at Rowan Heights, Drogheda

Boarded up home at Rowan Heights, Drogheda