The discrepancy between the number of people on the council’s housing waiting list, and the number of houses planned in Portlaoise, was highlighted by Cllr Paschal McEvoy at the Portarlington Graiguecullen meeting.
“33 houses and 200 on the list since January, when you put one against the other, they are miles apart,” he said.
He praised the work done by council housing staff.
“This is no fault of Laois County Council, they are doing great work with the resources they are given, it’s a national problem,” said the Fianna Fáil councillor.
Cllr Tom Mulhall agreed on the housing problem, but did not agree that 91 people are homeless.
“We are all aware there is a shortage. This is not to say that 91 people are homeless. They came to the council, and presented themselves as homeless, then they were assessed and provided for,” he said.
Many of the homeless applicants were in “short term difficulties” he said.
“The are finding themselves in a tough situation,” said the Fine Gael councillor, goin on to praise the work of the housing department.
“Laois County Council will pay a deposit for someone who is genuinely homeless. It is good work they are all doing,” he said.
“Don’t get me wrong, it is a big problem, but I don’t want it to go out that there are 91 people homeless. I want to compliment Fionnuala and her staff,” Cllr Mulhall said.
Cllr McEvoy did not see rent deposits as a solution to the housing shortage.
“I’d imagine nobody is given anything without being thoroughly vetted. It would be very simple if giving a deposit solved the problem, but there are no houses available. Many landlords don’t want to know about rent allowances,” he said.
“Some people are damn glad to get a deposit,” replied Cllr Mulhall.
“Yes, but there is not enough rental accommodation,” Cllr McEvoy said.