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23/09/2021

Homelessness growing in Laois as landlords sell up claims Councillor

Homelessness 'a growing problem' in Laois - Cllr Willie Aird

Fine Gael Cllr Willie Aird (left) at the opening of a Portlaoise housing estate in 2019 by the Minister for Housing

Homelessness is growing in Laois as landlords sell off rental properties says a Fine Gael councillor.

Cllr Willie Aird from Portlaoise has urged Laois County Council "don't let finances stop you" in providing more houses.

He claims that landlords are evicting tenants while following the law, and selling on their properties, with sale prices at a high in the current housing market.

"We are in a chronic situation in Portlaoise and the surrounding areas for houses. 

"We have people whose houses were sold over their heads by landlords who ticked every box. They will be homeless. This is a growing problem," he said.

He also wants the council to turnaround vacant council homes faster, and renovate quickly any houses they buy.

"I ask you please, anywhere you have a house, get them turned around. We cannot have a house boarded up in Portlaoise where people will be made homeless," he said.

Cllr Aird says that affordable sites must also be a priority. These are individual house plots that the council sells at low prices with services like water and sewage already in place.

"Affordable sites are absolutely finished. There are none available. I am asking Joe Delaney (Housing Director) to look into this and get somewhere. Planning is being refused on our roads now, we have to look at a few sites where Laois County Council will have land available for people to purchase a site," he said.

Laois County Council CEO John Mulholland says that "solid progress" is being made to provide more social housing around Laois.

"This is including our own direct builds, Approved Housing Bodies and acquisitions," he said at the July council meeting. 

Work is underway to build 49 new council houses around the county, with another 79 more at different stages of planning. Another 110 are being built by Approved Housing Bodies like Cluid and Respond, to be ready over the next six months. Twenty vacant homes were bought or are in the process of being bought, using Compulsory Purchase Orders. 

Over 200 more houses and apartments will be built in Portlaoise in the coming years using Urban Regeneration funds. These are on the old convent site, the old CBS site beside the train station, Hepburn Court, O'Moore Place and the county hotel.

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