Coun­cil needs to ‘build more houses’

DE­BATE ON SO­CIAL HOUS­ING HEARS OF TEN­ANTS DIF­FI­CUL­TIES

The Sligo Champion - - NEWS -

THE Hous­ing As­sis­tance Pay­ments (HAP) is just pour­ing money into the pock­ets of pri­vate land­lords and is not solv­ing the hous­ing cri­sis.

That’s ac­cord­ing to Coun­cil­lor Chris MacManus. Speak­ing af­ter the Direc­tor of Ser­vices Bart­ley Gavin gave a re­port to Sligo Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­trict Mem­bers on So­cial Hous­ing, Cllr MacManus said there was over-reliance on HAP, not just lo­cally but na­tion­ally.

“It’s do­ing noth­ing but in­creas­ing rentals in the pri­vate rental sec­tor. For working fam­i­lies, the is­sue is not get­ting on the list, it’s find­ing a house that will take you,” he told mem­bers.

“The land­lords hear HAP and put down the phone be­cause they’re deal­ing in cash and don’t want to pay tax on it,” he said.

He said that many more peo­ple were go­ing to be com­ing on stream once they come into the HAP or RAS (it’s pre­cur­sor scheme) sys­tem which would lead to a “mas­sive bot­tle neck” of hous­ing needs.

“We need to take the pres­sure off the pri­vate rental sec­tor and build more houses,” he said.

Bart­ley Gavin had ear­lier out­lined all the var­i­ous ways the Coun­cil was pro­vid­ing So­cial Hous­ing, ei­ther by build­ing, buy­ing, leas­ing or fund­ing.

He said that 8 new homes of the Fr O’Flana­gan Ter­race devel­op­ment will be fin­ished by Novem­ber with works started on three more.

16 houses were bought by the Coun­cil this year, while 32 va­cant homes have been done up and re-oc­cu­pied.

Sligo County Coun­cil only met just over 50 per cent of their tar­get un­der the So­cial Hous­ing Strat­egy over the past three years. Their tar­get for 2015-2017 was 200. They de­liv­ered 105 - 98 through RAS (Rental Ac­com­mo­da­tion Scheme) fund­ing (their tar­get was 132) and seven by leas­ing.

This was de­spite an ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign di­rected at land­lords.

Mr Gavin said the 105 out of 200 tar­get was “rea­son­ably suc­cess­ful” and said the HAP was the bet­ter scheme, with RAS be­ing phased out over the next few years.

Cllr Sea­mus Kil­gan­non asked if there could be any­thing done to speed up new Coun­cil builds at Knap­pagh Road and Rosses Point.

Bart­ley Gavin said that the Coun­cil had in­creased re­sources be­cause the Depart­ment had given them ap­proval to re­cruit more staff: “We have the staff on board now and it will be mov­ing for­ward,” he told mem­bers.

Pic:

Fr O’Flana­gan Ter­race new devel­op­ment. Carl Bren­nan.

Cllr Chris MacManus.

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