Laois council housing waiting list jumps to 1,500 despite council efforts to buy extra homes

Laois council housing waiting list jumps to 1,500 despite council efforts to buy extra homes

Architects drawing of a new scheme of 33 council houses under construction in Portlaoise

By Lynda Kiernan

The number of people on the waiting list for a council home in Laois has jumped to almost 1,500 this year, despite efforts by the council to stem the housing crisis.

There are now 1,469 individuals or families awaiting a home in Laois, compared to 1,343 in February, when the council launched its Housing and Homelessness Action Plan.

The latest figure was announced at Monday's July monthly council meeting, part of the 2017 Housing Needs Assessment.

Director for Housing Gerry Murphy said work is ongoing to buy up extra homes, particularly in Portlaoise.

“We are active, we are trying to finalise a number of aquisitions, of individual houses and of Hepburn Court. I hope in September to have more positive news,” Mr Murphy said.

Four new houses have been allocated to Laois County Council in the once ghost estate of Fruithill Manor in Graiguecullen, totalling 19 new homes for Laois tenants there this year.

There are 33 council houses under construction in Conniberry Way, Portlaoise, due for completion next spring (see photo).

Meanwhile standards of all rental accommodation in Laois are coming under closer scrutiny.

Inspections by council housing staff will soon begin on all council and private rented accommodation in Laois, to ensure that all comply with new safety regulations, in areas such as kitchens and carbon monoxide alarms.

Inspections have also been carried out on all multi storey council dwellings in Laois, following the Grenfell tower fire in London.

Council CEO is John Mulholland.

“The inspections are on foot of a request from Minister Murphy, particularly for buildings over six stories. While Laois has none of those, nonetheless we are heightening awareness of fire safety obligations to owners,” he said at the July council meeting.

Over 3,000 premises are vacant in Laois according to the 2016 Census, with the council still awaiting a requested breakdown on type and location.

Last June the council applied to the government to freeze rents in parts of Laois under pressure for housing.