The number of people on the council’s housing waiting list has dropped for the third year running, according to town manager, Mr Michael Rainey.
At the recent meeting ot the Portlaoise Electoral Area committee meeting, in response to a query from Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald, Mr Rainey said there were 1,291 people on the list as of November 28. This is down from 1,511 last year, itself down from 2011’s 1,679.
However, a number of councillors challenged the town manager’s figures.
“On the ground, I see a huge gap in housing, this is going to be a major problem,” said Cllr Fitzgerald. “There are more and more on the list who are eligible for rent allowance, but they can’t get a house... owners can pick and choose who they’re letting in, and low income families will find it difficult to get houses.”
“(Mr Rainey’s) answers seem totally unreal,” said Cllr Jerry Lodge. “There are more and more people looking for houses, and to say the numbers are down doesn’t agree with what we’re seeing on the ground.”
“No, they’re exactly right,” retorted Mr Rainey. “We did a housing assessment this year and it resulted in less on the list. Those numbers are exactly correct.”
Mr Rainey said that the rule prohibiting people from being on a waiting list in more than one county had affected this year’s figures, but not by much.
Cathaoirleach Cllr Mary Sweeney suggested that part of the reason the number was down was due to how few appeals had been lodged against council decisions on those eligible for housing.