Leasing schemes ‘are no solution to housing’

by Gazette Reporter

A SINN Fein councillor has criticised the Fingal housing strategy saying leasing schemes are not the solution to the housing crisis in the county.
While Cllr Paul Donnelly welcomed the initiative as a short-term measure to alleviate the problem, he believed these types of leasing schemes were not the solution.
“I have stated time and time again that the only real long-term solution to the housing crisis is simply to build more houses. The scheme will in reality open up very little if any additional accommodation and introducing a programme like this without putting forward any measures on rent certainty means the scheme is doomed to failure,” he said. It also symbolises a continuation of the failed policies of the past with an over reliance on private landlords, he added.
Cllr Donnelly asked where these houses to rent are going to come from: “Families are desperately making calls to landlords and appealing to them to accept rent supplement, with most appeals falling on deaf ears as the landlords can make much more money on the open market.”
The only long-term solution was to build more homes, he concluded.
A spokesperson from Fingal County Council responded saying the social housing strategy was committed to supplying 35,000 additional social units over the next six years. It would also provide high quality, secure and affordable housing accommodation for those who needed it by leasing it in from the private rental market as a key element of the strategy.
“In Fingal County Council there are a number of construction projects in progress and others going through the planning process. The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government recently approved four social housing projects, subject to planning, with an estimated capital cost of about €19m. The target number of units for Fingal under the range of housing programmes up to 2017 is 1,376 at an estimated cost of delivery of €81m,” said the spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the Department of Environment has announced funding of over €969,000 to bring 59 vacant social housing units back into use, along with €2.15m for housing adaptation grants for older and disabled people. This will allow them to refurbish their homes to fit their health requirements; for example ramps for wheelchair access.
Deputy Alan Farrell (FG) welcomed this new funding saying: “It is a terrible legacy of the recent economic crisis that there are boarded-up social housing units around the country when there are people urgently in need of accommodation. This funding package seeks to return these units to use and give people and families the fresh start they need in a new home.”
He added he was pleased with the allocation of this funding saying it was essential to bring more people off the housing waiting list and improve the quality of life for older people and people with disabilities.

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