€14 million bill to build 93 council homes in Laois

€14 million bill to build 93 council homes in Laois
By Lynda Kiernan

New council houses planned by Laois County Council will cost more to build than they would be to buy, based on current housing prices.

The council will build 93 new homes across Laois, costing €13.85m, €150,000 each, as part of efforts to feed an ever growing demand for council houses.

There are 1,343 names still on the list, with new people arriving to county hall every week to seek housing.

In 2016, 154 single people and 52 families came to reception, with 58 housed directly from homelessness.

The council has €33 million to find 366 extra houses by the end of 2017, using a range of means including buying old and new, leasing, building, supplying rent, and re-letting.

They need twice as much, said CEO John Mulholland.

“Our expenditure is €31.3m, if we had €62.2m our staff could deliver the required housing,” said the CEO, thanking housing staff for their work.

More government cash is on the way to do CPOs on derelict houses, with Portlaoise to be the council’s main focus. However, there is only €32m for 800 derelict houses nationwide.

Portlaoise has the biggest housing shortage, with many of the 1,343 people on the housing list seeking to live there, but a dire shortage of land and housing available.

Just 34 council homes will be built in Portlaoise by spring 2018. Six will be built in Clonaslee, 10 in Mountmellick, 10 in Ballyroan, eight in Mountrath, five in Rathdowney, while another 20 will be built in Portarlington by 2019.

The council plans to build 20 homes a year for the next three years.

The local authority is also buying up houses in the derelict Hepburn Court estate in Portlaoise. Nine out of the 12 have been purchased, with the intention to knock them all and build new homes on the site (see pictured).

Councillors praised the housing section's efforts but said much more housebuilding must be done to meet demand.

“We are just tinkering at the edges,” commented Mountmellick councillor Paddy Bracken, at the February council meeting.

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