Housing Crisis

Laois needs more government cash to solve housing shortage says council chief

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Email:

lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie

Vacant houses at Aghnaharna, Portlaoise. New government plans include using CPOs to force owners of vacant properties to sell or rent.

Vacant houses at Aghnaharna, Portlaoise. New government plans include using CPOs to force owners of vacant properties to sell or rent them out.

As the housing crisis continues to affect Laois people, a solution requires extra money, Laois County Council’s CEO has said.

Laois County Council CEO John Mulholland was among 31 local government chiefs attending the Housing Summit in Dublin last Friday September 8.

Speaking to the Leinster Express this week, he said the new policies planned by the government include building new homes rather than buying them, and using Compulsory Purchase Orders on vacant dwellings.

There is a government shift away from buying houses, to building them instead.

“Budget is being redirected away from acquisitions and into direct build programmes for local authorities and housing bodies,” the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy stated after the summit.

The Laois CEO expects more money to build council homes.

“I am looking forward to an increased provision in the 2018 budget,” Mr Mulholland told the Leinster Express.

More money has indeed been promised.

“The Government is committed to further increasing the number of new homes which will be built as part of the State Social Housing Build Programme. In the context of Budget 2018, discussions are ongoing with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and additional funding will be made available for social housing purposes and will be finalised in the context of the Budget,” Minister Murphy said.

The government is also increasing its national target of 3,000 new homes in 2018 across Ireland, to 3,800 homes. Combined with Part VII homes delivered from private developments, and refurbished social houses, it promises 5,000 new social housing homes in 2018.

In Laois, at the last count in June, there were almost 1,500 names on the council’s housing waiting list.  In the first seven months this year, 131 people presented to county hall as homeless. Emergency accommodation was given to 34 of them.

The 2016 census recorded 3,000 vacant premises in Laois, but how many of those are houses rather than commercial properties, is not yet known.

Other measures by the housing Minister including making landlords notify the RTB if they are issuing a Notice of Termination to a tenant.

“The RTB will write to each tenant providing them with advice and guidance, including the name and contact details of the relevant local authority officials to contact if they are having difficulty in accessing alternative accommodation,” the Minister said.

For those in mortgage arrears, a new Mortgage to Rent scheme will be announced before the end of September.

Minister Murphy focused on measures to alleviate homelessness in Dublin in much of his statement. He hopes some will find homes in other counties.

“Homeless families in Dublin wishing to move to locations outside Dublin will be facilitated where possible. A Place Finder Service in each local authority will assist these homeless households who wish to relocate to access a suitable property,” he also stated.

There were three CEOs with strong Laois connections at the summit. Former Laois county manager Peter Carey, now CEO of Kildare, lives in the county. New Offaly CEO Anne-Marie Delaney was a former Director of Services in Laois and also lives in Laois.

Read Minister Eoghan Murphy’s full statement here.