With nearly 5,000 people on the housing list in County Louth and a waiting time of up to 13 years, Councillor Joanna Byrne has said that the Government's housing policy has "badly failed the people of Drogheda."
The Sinn Féin Councillor was reacting to figures released by Louth County Council on foot of a question she tabled on housing delivery in 2020 which show that applicants are spending longer than ever on the waiting list.
Cllr Byrne said she was “horrified” to see that the average waiting time for a house in Drogheda has increased to 13 years for a 2 bedroom property and 11 years for a 3 bedroom property.
“What is worse is that only 125 people (6% of the waiting list) in the town received allocations throughout the whole of 2020” Byrne said.
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“We need to get real here and realise that the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland Policy targeting the delivery of 1,074 houses over the past three years hasn't touched the sides of the housing crisis in this county” ” an irate Cllr Byrne told the meeting.
“We have been sitting at or around the 5,000 mark of people waiting for homes for the past four years and are making no dent in it” she said.
“125 people allocated homes in a town the size of Drogheda in a year is pitiful. Where is the vision? Where is the hope? And where are the solutions that people so desperately need?"
Cllr Byrne urged the Director for Housing to step up and challenge these targets from the Department of Housing.
"People are in the depths of despair. They have no security of tenure renting in private dwellings and now we are telling them the average waiting time has increased to 13 years? This policy has failed the people of Louth and more specifically the people of Drogheda.”
Cllr Byrne continued: "Director, we need to be challenging these delivery targets, the next round of targets is due and should be more ambitious and reflective of the crisis we face.
“We are sitting on land banks the length and breadth of this county that are choking the local authority financially, these need to be used for building social and affordable housing, the policy needs to change and the onus is on you to challenge the Minister on this.”
Director of Services for Housing, Paddy Donnelly, responded to Cllr Byrne stating that the new Minister for Housing, Darragh O'Brien, has replaced the previous Rebuilding Ireland scheme with a 'Housing For All' Scheme of which delivery targets have not yet been finalised. However, he did say that these new targets may be particularly challenging to deliver going forward, partly because of delays due to Covid.
Cllr Byrne called this “a disappointing response” which "already sounds like another feeble excuse being lined up for not providing a home for those languishing on the waiting list.”
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