Delays in Affordable Housing Scheme is compounding housing crisis – Imelda Munster TD

Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Imelda Munster, has today called on the government to set up an Affordable Housing Scheme as a matter as a priority. The last government announced the scheme in Budget 2016, however it has yet to be set up.

“The state has completely reneged on its duties to provide secure and affordable housing. The homelessness crisis is a national emergency, a fact that the government has not recognised. More families and individuals than ever are homeless.”

“Young people and those on low and middle incomes cannot afford to buy homes. Meanwhile, the private rental sector is seriously under-regulated and only benefiting landlords as tenants are priced out of the market.”

“In my own constituency of Louth and East Meath housing waiting lists have spiralled, with many families waiting up to nine years for a house. There is a chronic shortage of affordable private rental accommodation and the government has yet to open the Affordable Housing Scheme, despite making a commitment to do so two years ago.”

“The government is paying lip service to the housing crisis. They need to fund a proper social housing programme, and to allow those who wish to purchase their own home to do so under an Affordable Housing Scheme rather than relying on the dysfunctional private rental market.”

Cllr Cunningham Welcomes Equality in Amenity Grants for Communities

At this month’s Ardee Municipal Council meeting Councillor Tom Cunningham raised questions on the allocation of amenity grants in the County.

The Sinn Féin Councillor said “The Amenity Grants were up for approval again. Last year I had asked for a review into how this money is allocated as there did not appear to be any structure or guidelines on the amount a housing association or estate could claim.”

Cllr Cunningham said “In previous years some estates were getting €2,000 while other estates of a similar size in a different part of the county may have only got €100. It just didn’t make sense so I asked that this be reviewed.”

At this month’s meeting Cllr Cunningham was told the review had been carried out.

“I welcome the outcome of the review, there is now a template in place which is fair and just. In light of this I have now called for a further review, this time into how the Amerntity Grants are allocated to Tidy Towns Groups and Development Groups. I want to see a fair and just template in place for this funding as well.”

“These are public funds and they should be divided in a fair manner county wide.”

Joanna Byrne Welcomes Choice Based Letting for Louth

Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne, Chairperson of The Housing Strategic Policy Committee for Louth welcomes the implementation of Choice Based Lettings for the County. Currently the Choice Based Lettings system is used in Louth for the allocating of some Social Housing mainly those with high refusal rates but this is now being extended to the full county for all allocations in May 2017.

The scheme is an online service that allows applicants to express interest in advertised council properties on a weekly basis. All allocations from May 9th will be made through this system, except those based on medical needs, specially adapted, elderly units or homelessness. All Local Authority Housing list applicants will receive letters next week outlining the changes in the allocation procedure and log on details of how each one of them can access the CBL system.

Every Tuesday morning available properties for that week will be added to the system and will remain open until the following Monday night at midnight. Throughout this period any applicant can express their interest in a property ‘suitable’ to them. A suitable property is one that you have chosen that matches your housing needs and in your areas of choice..

The successful applicant is then chosen based on:

* Your waiting time on Louth County Councils waiting list

* Your family size

* The type of property you are approved for

* Your category under the scheme of allocations

* Estate Management

There will also be advertisements in the local papers and a publicity campaign launched by Louth County Council this week to create awareness on these changes.

Cllr Byrne said: “I welcome the implementation of the Choice Based Lettings process in Louth. I believe it will give local authority housing list applicants ownership over their own housing needs. They only have to apply for a house they choose and can see themselves and their families settling in long-term.

“This in turn will reduce the high rate of refusals we have in the county and speed up the turnaround time for allocations. I am also delighted to see the local authority invest in the resources of computers in each of the four council buildings in the county, and fully trained customer service staff to assist with those who aren’t computer literate or have literacy issues, as this was initially a huge concern of mine.

“Like all new systems being implemented it will be a learning curve for both us as Public Representatives and the constituents themselves, but from leasing with colleagues on other councils, South Dublin County Council in particular who piloted this project four years ago, I have only heard positive feedback.

“This process will not have a dramatic impact on reducing the numbers on waiting lists, the government still need to invest in the supply of more social housing, it will however speed up the allocation process for any stock that becomes available.”

Cllr Kenneth Flood: We Need the Port Access Northern Cross Route

At this month’s Louth County Council meeting, Director of Services Frank Pentony gave members an update on the three applications Louth County Council had made to central government for funding under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation fund.

Drogheda Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood said:

“We were advised that two applications were successful, one for works at Twenties Lane and one for housing on The Marsh Road, but that one, the application for the Port Access Northern Cross Route (PANCR) was not successful.

“Given recent press statements made by a government T.D. on this matter I sought clarification on this. The response was clear. No funding was made available and the Port Access Northern Cross Route construction will not start any time soon.

“Every resident of Drogheda knows that the PANCR is a vital piece of infrastructure needed to take the heavy goods vehicles out of our town centre and to alleviate the traffic congestion. Deputy Imelda Munster and I included the PANCR in our submission for Drogheda to the National Planning framework to again highlight the need for this vital piece of infrastructure that is essential for Drogheda to develop its full potential.

“My fear is that Louth County Council are going to repeat the mistakes of the past and allow houses to be built without a clear plan. The PANCR should be in place to support them. That has already started to happen.

“In 2008 an An Bord Pleanála ruling for 314 Houses on the Termonfeckin Road stated ‘In accordance with Objective PANCR 1 of the North Drogheda Environs Master Plan 2006, other than with the prior written agreement of the planning authority, no development shall commence on the site until Implementation Objective IO 1 is in place. This shall provide inter alia for the following: (i) the design and construction of the Northern Cross Route from the R132 to the R166 as a single contract, (ii) construction of the Northern Cross Route from the R166 to the port at Drogheda.’

Cllr Flood explained “But recently a new planning application (Ref 16900)  for the same site was submitted and passed before the any movement has happened on the PANCR.

“There is no time frame or set plan for when the PANCR will reach the Termonfeckin Road and this means that 63 houses will be built, culminating in a total of 314 houses will go ahead without the PANCR being built, with only one way in and out, onto the Termonfeckin Road and will increase the traffic burden on the already over developed and under supported North East part of our town.

“A playground in the original 2008 planning permission was also removed from the amended planning application and there is no plan to connect the footpath from the new development to nearby Termon Abbey. I intend to appeal this decision to An Bord Pleanála, along with local residents who fear that they will not be able to enter or exit their estates on the Termonfeckin/Newfoundwell Roads with the increase in traffic.

“Houses are needed, but so is the infrastructure to support them. Plans are only good, like the plan for the PANCR, if they are followed through on.”



Imelda Munster criticises lack of social housing building in Louth, as council land banks lie idle.

imelda-munster-tdSinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster TD has again raised the matter of council landbanks in County Louth in the Dáil. Questioning Damien English TD, Minister of State in the Department of Housing, she asked whether the Minister’s department had completed collating the data for the landbanks available for housing and criticised the lack of progress in delivering housing for the people of Louth.

Deputy Munster said:

“The situation in County Louth is shocking, and given the scale of the housing crisis I am sure that is replicated right across the State. There are almost 4,000 people on the housing waiting list in County Louth, many of whom have been waiting more than nine years to be housed. The number of applicants on the housing waiting lists exceeds the entire supply of council-owned housing stock in County Louth, which is a shocking statistic to bring to the attention of the House.”

“Meanwhile, there are 54 acres of council-zoned landbanks throughout the county on which Louth County Council pays €3 million a year in interest only for the loans. Citizens are deprived of vital services and amenities because the council must pay such an amount in interest, while the land lies idle and barren as not a single house has yet been built.”

Deputy Munster also criticised the government’s slow progress in rolling out a proper social housing scheme, 8 months on from the launch of the Rebuilding Ireland document.

Deputy Munster:

“We are now over eight months on from the launch of Rebuilding Ireland, and the government has still not completed the mapping of the local authority landbanks. This should have been completed a long time ago, long before the publication of Rebuilding Ireland. It beggars belief that in the middle of a housing crisis the Minister had not ascertained what land belonged to local authorities across the State.”

“The Minister of State indicated there are 26 different projects but only six are being done by the local authority. The rest are from public-private partnerships and approved housing bodies. With the six developments, there will be a total of 123 homes over the next two to three years. There are 4,000 people on the housing list.

“Of those 123 homes, 20 have an unknown date of completion, seven are regeneration projects and 24 come from the acquisition of vacant units. There are three renovations included in that figure.”

“The government seems to be saying that Louth should be happy enough with 123 houses, with only a certain number being newly built, over the next three to four years, in the middle of a housing emergency.”

“It is clear as a bell that the Government’s entire policy to solve the housing crisis is developer-led and developer-driven and completely ineffective”.