Cllr Pearse McGeough Criticises Substantial Shortfall in Housing Adaptation Grants

Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough has criticised the allocation in this year’s budget for Housing Adaption Grants (HAGs).

Speaking before the Louth County Council meeting this month, Cllr McGeough said “last year I asked the Council to apply for additional funding for this scheme and this year we are an even worse off situation.”

Cllr McGeough said “Each year a budget is allocated to this scheme which will adapt houses for the disabled or elderly. The applications for this particular Scheme are from some of the most vulnerable in our community. The scheme is intended to make daily life better for those who need a bit of extra help with their physical needs. This could be anything from a downstairs bathroom to a more major refurbishment of their home. These adaptations need to be carried out in a timely manner and that is just not happening because of the budgetary constraints being placed on it by Central Government.”

Cllr McGeough hit out at what he called the ‘wholly inadequate’ budget this year coming from Central Government. “Let’s do the math, we have 346 people waiting, some since since 2017, for adaptations to their homes, vulnerable people who have found themselves in a situation where they need a bit of work done to their homes to enable their basic daily needs to be met in a dignified way. This is going to cost a total of just over €3 million to clear the backlog and work on the current applications.  Central Government have allocated just under €1.2 million to the Scheme for this year and Louth County Council has to add just under €300k to that and that is all we are allowed.  We only have half the money we need.”

Cllr McGeough said he would be pressing the Council to seek additional funding for this vital Scheme. “If citizens are unable to remain in their own homes, this has the knock-on effect of a greater number of older people seeking nursing home places and they aren’t available either. If I was more cynical I would think the Government was biding its time in the hope some of these citizens would pass away and they wouldn’t need to spend the money. People deserve better.”

GOV LATEST QUANGO WILL NOT SOLVE THE HOUSING CRISIS – MUNSTER

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and Meath East Imelda Munster has said that the proposed Land Development Agency is a case of ‘the Government reverting to mistakes of the past, where the housing market is Private Developer Led and Private Developer Driven.’

Deputy Munster said:

This latest stunt highlights the government’s point blank refusal to provide funding for the roll out of a proper social and affordable house building programme. As Fine Gael and Minister Murphy give ‘state owned lands’ to private developers telling them that they only have to provide a mere 10% for social housing, there are almost 100,000 people on the social housing waiting list nationwide as well as all those who will never be in a position to own their own home.

In Louth alone there are 4112 families on the housing list many of whom have been waiting for upwards of a decade to be housed. Meanwhile the government has consistently refused to fund Louth County Council to enable them to build social housing on the 50 acres of council owned land banks held throughout the county.

And who will the proposed 30% in affordable homes serve? It certainly won’t be the 50% of our population who earn less than €28,000 per annum. The price of an affordable home was put forward yesterday as being in the region of €320,000 meaning that the purchaser will need to have €32,000 in savings for the deposit before they start; then they will have to follow that up with a mortgage of €288,000 for which they will need to be earning a minimum of €82,000 per annum in order to afford an ‘affordable home’.

The Housing crisis will never be solved by this government. Instead they are reverting to mistakes of the past where the housing market is private developer led and private developer driven. They are ideologically opposed to funding the building of social and affordable housing.

Local Authorities should be funded to develop the sites and council owned land banks to build social housing, affordable rental and affordable homes.

That’s the only way to tackle the housing crisis.

Ó Murchú: Land Bank interest payments strangling Louth County Council finances

“The land banks held by Louth County Council need to be part of any housing solution by central government”, says Sinn Féin’s Ruairí Ó Murchú.

“Sinn Féin does not think much of Eoghan Murphy’s deflective proposals to strip County Councils of powers to deal with emergency accommodation and our planned motion of no confidence in him is well highlighted.

“The government’s idea of a Land Development Agency would only be worthwhile if  adequately resourced and operating greater, more realistic home building targets.

“Many of these land banks were bought by Louth County Council for building social and affordable housing, as was required by the government of the time. Not only are they not being built on but to date Louth County Council’s finances are being strangled by paying interest on loans on these lands. Next year the cost of this will be an estimated €1.5 million on loans of about €60 million.”

Cllr Ó Murchú described the situation as ‘ludicrous’.

Ruairi at a recent Housing Presentation by Eoin Ó Broin

“We have a responsibility to the people of Louth to ensure their budgets are being used properly and appropriately. People are entitled to value for money and it’s unjustifiable to have over €1.5 million taken out of your budget before you even start and have nothing to show for it.”

Louth County Council is also facing the daunting prospect at the end of the year of having to deal with the capital element of some of these loans.

Some of these land banks were purchased at the height of the boom and are worth a lot less now making it unviable for the land to be sold off according to Louth County Council. Councillors were told at the recent Louth County Council budget meeting that one of the last batches of land bought by LCC were purchased for €1.3 million per acre. These same lands would be lucky to fetch €400,000 per acre in today’s market leaving LCC ‘on the hook’ for the outstanding debt. LCC officials stated they have used this situation to force the issue with Central Government and will continue to make representations to them.

The government in tandem with Louth County Council needs to assess which lands are most suitable for necessary home building and to put plans in operation. If lands are not economically or any other way viable for housing, they should be looked at from a point of view of IDA development or some other solution

Either way, they have been bought by the state and the state needs to find an answer rather than compounding Louth County Council’s problem with underfunding from Central government.

Cllr Ó Murchú said “Across this state we have about 10,000 people in emergency homeless accommodation, tens of thousands of households on the housing waiting list and a huge level of tenants on HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) at a huge cost to the state. We have a huge cohort paying exorbitant rents and many unable to purchase their own homes.”

Sinn Féin is enthusiastically supporting the ICTU led ‘Raise the Roof: Homes for All’ rally which will take place outside the Dáil on October 3rd at 12.30pm.

A number of elected reps and activists travelled to Carrickmacross to hear Eoin O’Broin highlight this rally and to hear Sinn Féin proposals to address the public housing problem in this state.

Housing crisis in Louth: Adams TD

Commenting on the recent homeless figures Gerry Adams TD pointed out that; “There are now more citizens homeless in this state than the combined populations of Ardee, Castlebellingham, Dunleer, Jenkinstown and Tullyallen”.

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has challenged local TDs, irrespective of their party allegiance, to support Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in the Housing Minister Eoin Murphy when it comes before the Dáil in the next few weeks.

The Sinn Féin Louth TD said:

“The government’s housing policy, supported by Fianna Fáil, is failing the tens of thousands of households on the waiting list, the almost ten thousand men, women and children who are homeless, the many more who are paying exorbitant rents, and those who want to buy their own home.

Minister Murphy is out of touch with the needs of households who need a safe and secure roof over the heads.

While there has been a very slight drop in the number of homeless in Louth the government’s policies are failing to dent the housing crisis in this constituency and across the state. The number of homeless dropped by just two between June and July.

There are now more citizens homeless in this state than the combined populations of Ardee, Castlebellingham, Dunleer, Jenkinstown and Tullyallen.

This is an outrageous situation. Consequently, Sinn Féin will be tabling a motion of no confidence in Minister Murphy in the next few weeks. We are seeking support from across the political spectrum.

I am calling on all local TDs to place the housing needs of citizens first and to join with Sinn Féin in demanding that Minister Murphy goes and the government adopt effective and urgent policies to end the housing crisis. My appeal is especially directed at Fianna Fáil TD Declan Breathnach whose party’s support for the government is keeping it in power. Fianna Fáil is complicit in this housing crisis. Fianna Fáil TDs have the power to demand that the government change its disastrous housing policy but thus far they have refused. The Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in the Minister presents Teachta Breathnach and others with an opportunity to put the people first.”

 

Daft report confirms that Government has no plan, no clue – Munster

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster, has said that the latest Daft report has only confirmed that which we all knew; “rents have spiralled out of control and show no signs of slowing down”.

Teachta Munster said that it was clear that the meagre government efforts to date have had no impact and it was time for Minister Eoghan Murphy and the government to take strong, definitive action to address the housing situation which has descended far past crisis point.

Rents have risen 12.4% in a year, with the average rent now standing at €1,304. Limerick City and Waterford city has seen rises of 20% since last year.

The Louth and East Meath TD said:

“The Government’s reliance on the private sector to solve the housing crisis and the Minister’s light touch philosophy has had no impact.

“The Rent Pressure Zones were unambitious to begin with and demonstrated the reluctance of Fine Gael to interfere with a market that is dysfunctional at best, fundamentally broken at worst. Similarly, the anaemic level of construction of social and affordable housing is simply driving people towards that private sector market, driving up rents for all.

“Rent certainty, the Focus Ireland amendment that would keep families in their homes, an ambitious and necessary investment in social and affordable housing; these are the policy objectives that the government would be better served in pursuing. Media appearances telling the people that it’s not as bad as it looks are insulting and an embarrassing indication that the government truly doesn’t know how bad the housing emergency has become.

“It is clear that this government, backed to the hilt by their partners in Fianna Fáil, is doing more harm than good when it comes to the housing crisis. They have no plan and it seems they haven’t a clue either.”