New Dunleer housing scheme has been 14 years in the planning
THE stagnation in the provision of” Social Housing” in Louth and indeed countrywide is extremely hard to believe and reflects badly on the Government and those keeping it in power.
The recent report showing around ninety” Local Authority Houses” unoccupied in Louth is just something that definitely should not be happening.
Many of these houses could be brought back into use very quickly and without costing an arm and a leg.
But we are told that the money is just not there ! again a statement that flies in the face of everything we see happening around us in Government and the Economy.
In my own Village of Dunleer the long promised eighty” New Social Housing Units” have still not commenced after fourteen years in the planning.
With an approximate Fourteen Million Euro spent on land acquisition in 2014 on the Dunleer site and with repayments on the amounts borrowed from the” Housing FinanceAgency” kicking in a year or two ago, the Dunleer Site has become a huge liability for Louth Co. Council along with other sites across the County .
The council has had zero income from the point of view of rents from the houses which should have been built by now.
The Legacy of previous management in the County back during the” Celtic Tiger “days has played havoc on the Council’s Finances presently.
The most recent example being the Fiasco of the Drogheda Parking Charges of last year, where the problem was traced back to sloppy management in the drawing up of the” Bye Laws” in 2005.
Back in October 2015 the” League of Credit Unions” in Ireland offered the Minister for Finance the grand sum of 5 Billion Euros of savers money to be invested into” Social Housing Projects” countrywide.
Whilst the” Central Bank” seems to have made some move with regard to widening the powers of the” Credit Unions” the Government have not as yet grasped the spirit of what the League were trying to achieve when the offer was made originally to the then Minister “Michael Noonan”.
Part of the logic was that nearly all of the occupants of Council Houses or families on the Local Authority housing lists are members of Credit Unions.
Therefore there would be a real feel good factor in knowing that their own savings and the savings of their friends and neighbours were helping in the quest for housing both locally and nationally .
The Credit Union, in my area are advertising 100M Euros in loans to its members presently, in an effort to expand their Loan Book.
Most people applying will probably be looking for loans to buy cars and some house improvements and holidays etc. but still probably little or no involvement in the House Purchase area, which is a great pity.
Credit Unions were a huge Movement for ordinary people during the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties and they mushroomed up all over the Country until every Parish had one.
Founded on the principles of co-operation and for the betterment of the local community many people are now saying that these principles are being eroded and the sense of community has suffered in the merging of individual Credit Unions into bigger entities.
In fact some people have talked about moving their savings from the Credit Union to An Post where along with the ordinary savings account they have short term savings in Guarnteed Government Bonds on offer, tax free on maturity. Also the mainstream Banks are an attraction as well where they have Debit and Credit Card facilities available .
What once was a powerful movement” Credit Unions” are now caught on the back foot fighting for their own space and regrettably may be embarking on the road to becoming just another heartless player in the crazy Financial Services World of today .
Whilst efforts by the League to assist in Social Housing from the top are very welcome I think they should be looking at the grass roots side of it as well.
Local Credit Unions with support from the League should be attempting to regain their foothold in communities by helping to finance individuals and families who are trying very hard to find themselves a home .
Apart from the fact that they have the network to create housing co-operatives nationwide they could involve themselves in other ways without any new legislation.
Simple example would be where we have a Council House boarded up in a particular community and applicants interested then the Council Housing Office could identify the Family or Individual that are most deserving and call them round the table.
Assuming it is the case that the Council do not have the funds to carry out the improvements needed and may have to wait six or nine months for funding from the Department, then this is where the Credit Union could play it’s part .
A single repayment Loan for the amount to complete the works to the house could be raised from the Local Credit Union and works carried out in a number of weeks as is the case in lots of these situations.
There could be a clause in the agreement to allow the new tenant and perhaps their friends or family to carry out some of the works on the house in trades which they are qualified .
With the obvious stipulation that the new tenant could not take up residence until the house is deemed liveable.
The interest repayments on the Loan would not start until the first week of residency therefore the first payment of rent to the Council.
The Loan principal could be paid off in full when the Council get their draw down of funds from the Department.
It is not right to have good boarded up homes belonging to the Tax Payer in our midst with the biggest Community Movement created in our life time , dangling millions to its members .
We should dig deep, like our parents did in the creation of the Credit Unions and try and make a difference in our life time and resurrect the old principles and concepts of the great Co. Operative Movements that once were very strong in this country . Regards Hugh D Conlon, Dunleer Louth PPN
Pictured at the recent national midwifery conference: 100 Years of Regulation and Development of Midwifery in Ireland is Ms. Una O Brien, Clinical Midwife Specialist in Teenage Pregnancy, Maternity Unit, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. Una is seen receiving First Prize for her Winning Poster “Small Changes That Have Made A Difference to our Teenage Pregnancy Service” from the Minister for Health Mr Simon Harris. Una also received first prize for the same poster at the INMO All Ireland Annual Midwifery Conference
Mayor Frank Godfrey, Drogheda Borough District, pictured with Sandra Okome, Resource Officer for suicide prevention Louth & Meath, Paddy Donnelly, Director of Services, Louth County Council and Elias Mimbila, Louth County Council, in St. Dominick’s Park, Drogheda, at the recent tree planting ceremony to remember those who have died by suicide.