‘Disgrace’ as Fingal’s homeless families pass 500

by Sylvia Pownall
Local TD Darragh O'Brien said people "continue to have major concerns" about the Greater Dublin Drainage Project

The number of families on the council’s homeless list has breached the 500 mark – as 1,433 acres of State-controlled land in Fingal which could deliver 18,520 housing units lies vacant.

The local authority is in contact with 522 families who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness, it emerged at the monthly council meeting.

Residentially-zoned land totalling 172 hectares (412 acres) in the ownership of Fingal County Council lies empty, with another 425 hectares (1,022 acres) of NAMA-controlled land also undeveloped.

Fianna Fail’s housing spokesman Darragh O’Brien told Dublin Gazette: “This is a disgrace – but it can be fixed. Fingal County Council need to be allowed to get on with the job, but they are being constrained by the Minister for Housing.”

Deputy O’Brien said Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy “has not come up with a scheme for building affordable housing” and this was frustrating local authorities in their efforts to effectively cost, tender and build homes.

Fingal’s landbank is one of the most significant in the country, according to ‘The Land Scarcity Myth’ by architect Mel Reynolds, which shows that between NAMA and local authorities, the State controls more than one-quarter of the land in the country.

Deputy O’Brien said: “We have land that is zoned in Fingal. One of the main reasons building is being held up is the lack of an affordable housing scheme, because the Government stopped the old scheme in 2011 and hasn’t come up with an alternative.”

Councillors voiced their concern at last week’s full meeting of Fingal County Council, when chief executive Paul Reid delivered his monthly report.

It states: “Fingal County Council is currently in contact with circa 522 families who are in homeless circumstances or at risk of homelessness.”

It also emerged that since the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme was introduced in 2015, less than 1,000 such tenancy arrangements have been put in place in Fingal.

Between 2015 and the end of 2017, Fingal County Council built 78 homes, acquired 114 under Part V, and purchased a further 96. The council says it plans to construct 1,389 homes between now and 2021.

Last week, Deputy O’Brien took Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to task in the Dail and claimed his proposals were not grounded in fact but were “absolute fantasy”.

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