Council needs to ‘build more houses’
DEBATE ON SOCIAL HOUSING HEARS OF TENANTS DIFFICULTIES
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.
Fr O’Flanagan Terrace new development. Carl Brennan.
Cllr Chris MacManus.