The battle to find homes for Laois people is still ongoing, with a new action plan from Laois County Council listing 1,343 people on their waiting list, many of them waiting for more than four years.
The Housing and Homelessness Action Plan, issued yesterday, says the council aims to “ensure every household will have access to secure good quality housing suited to their needs at an affordable price,”
However, their target to deliver 386 homes between 2015 and the end of this year, with a government budget of €31million, will do little to shorten the growing list of people needing a home in Laois.
There were 97 homes allocated to people on the list in 2016, however another 444 names were newly added in the past year alone.
259 are waiting for over four years.
Five households are in emergency accommodation.
There are 47 people with disabilities awaiting a home. Another 37 people are living in other people's homes, called “involuntary sharing”.
There are 166 people on the list living in overcrowded, unfit, or unsuitable homes.
Of the 1343 listed, 231 households are waiting between one to two years, 268 for two to three years, and 141 waiting three to four years.
Over 1,000 households are in private rented accommodation, with their rent paid by a rent supplement.
In 2016, 199 people presented as homeless to Laois County Council.
Director of Services Gerry Murphy confirmed that the Census counted 3,000 vacant homes in Laois.
“We expect details this year on where they are,” he said, thanking the housing staff for “working tirelessly”.
The council aims to have 33 homes built in Portlaoise by thespring of 2018.
Another 20 are in the early planning stages for Portarlington, with plans for a further 25 across the county, all to take some years.
The council bought over 20 houses in the past year.
Other housing associations are planning to build or supply 98 houses over the coming years.
The council is also buying up derelict houses in Harpur's Lane, Hillview Drive, Hepburn Court and O'Moore Place in Portlaoise, in efforts to rebuild or renovate the estates.
Portlaoise Cllr Willie Aird congratulated the housing section on their work, but said buying land must be done to solve the problem.
“Our record over the last six years is dismal, this is no reflection on the council, they are working with the means they have. that list will grow and grow, we have the biggest growing population in Leinster outside of Dublin. You can see it on the ground with the cost of rental properties. Now is the time to bulid up a land bank,” he said.
“We are making no inroads to the list, we've totally inadequate funding,” said Cllr Brendan Phelan.
Photo: The sod being turned by Housing Minister Simon Coveney on a new council estate in Portlaoise last October, to be built by spring 2018.