The Argus - - NEWS - By OLIVIA RYAN

LOUTH has the high­est num­ber of home­less peo­ple per capita in the East/ North-East re­gion out­side of Dublin, ac­cord­ing to new fig­ures.

The ‘Home­less­ness re­port’ from the De­part­ment of Hous­ing, Plan­ning and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment showed there were 122 peo­ple listed as home­less at the end of Au­gust.

This put the wee county as hav­ing the great­est level of home­less­ness per capita in the east/north east re­gion, out­side of Dublin.

Re­spond­ing to the fig­ures, Louth TD De­clan Breath­nach ex­pressed his con­cern, say­ing

‘Louth has a pop­u­la­tion of 128,884 with 122 peo­ple home­less as op­posed to next high­est Kil­dare’s pop­u­la­tion of 222,130, with 141 peo­ple home­less,’ said

Breath­nach who was com­ment­ing at the num­ber of home­less in Louth and hopes that the new Fianna Fáil Bill

“Va­cant Hous­ing Re­fur­bish­ment Bill 2017” will help al­le­vi­ate the prob­lem.

‘ This bill is a prac­ti­cal, com­mon sense and con­struc­tive mea­sure that forms part of

Fianna Fáil’s de­ter­mined fo­cus on pro­vid­ing work­able so­lu­tions to the Hous­ing Cri­sis. The rad­i­cal in­crease in the sup­ply of homes for the thou­sands of fam­i­lies that re­quire them needs con­stant cri­sis man­age­ment by Gov­ern­ment.’

Deputy Breath­nach said he had sub­mit­ted a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Re­quest to Louth County Coun­cil, query­ing the num­ber of empty hous­ing units.

‘ The num­ber of va­cant units owned by them in 2017 is 56. I was also told that it takes ap­prox­i­mately 18 weeks to re­turn a va­cant so­cial hous­ing unit back into use. It should be a pri­or­ity for the Coun­cil to bring th­ese va­cant units back into use with­out de­lay.’

‘I have also es­tab­lished that in Dun­dalk alone, there are well over 200 2nd and 3rd floor units that could be re­fur­bished.’

‘ This bill will in essence al­low a one-stop-shop to be es­tab­lished which will process all th­ese ap­pli­ca­tions in a timely and co-or­di­nated man­ner. We can re­duce a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion sys­tem that can last months and drain the money, en­ergy and de­ter­mi­na­tion that is needed if we are to get on top of this cri­sis to two weeks.’

‘ The in­cen­tive to prop­erty own­ers is ob­vi­ous. Within two weeks each prop­erty owner or their builder/ar­chi­tect will have se­cured all the per­mis­sions they need in or­der to con­vert th­ese units into homes. That is a real in­cen­tive to those prop­erty own­ers to be pro-ac­tive in get­ting the full po­ten­tial of their prop­er­ties par­tic­u­larly in ur­ban ar­eas but also in towns and vil­lages. I urge all own­ers who have va­cant units or up­per floor units suit­able for con­ver­sion to look into this,’ said the Louth TD.

Teacher, Pamela O’Con­nor-Mone­ley with the School choir at the Har­vest Fes­ti­val in Dun­dalk Gram­mar School.

De­clan Breath­nach TD.

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