Councils must be properly empowered to build and maintain their own housing stock


TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said that the diminishing of the ability of local authorities to build and maintain their social housing stock has led to their inability to retrofit or adapt social housing to their tenants’ needs, leading to energy poverty and homes unfit to people’s medical needs.
Speaking after the Dail debate recently, Teachta Crowe said “Ending the housing crisis is not just about building homes. It is about maintaining the homes we have to a high standard. “Too many social housing tenants are living in poorly maintained homes and that is affecting quality of life and in too many cases, contributing directly to energy poverty as too many social houses are pumping heat right out through the walls and roof.
“On top of that, it is simply taking too long to bring vacant and derelict properties back into the system. Some local areas are littered with properties that would make perfectly good homes, but they lie idle, boarded up, sometimes for years.
“We should create a dedicated annual fund for local authorities to supplement their existing response maintenance budgets. But we should also try and undo the damage that Fine Gael caused ten years ago when Phil Hogan gutted the local authorities’ ability to build and maintain a housing stock without relying on private sector contractors.
“The social housing retrofitting programme is vital for energy efficiency and reducing energy poverty, but it is a boom time for registered companies doing this type of work. Councils are always going to struggle to retrofit existing housing stock when they cannot do the work themselves in most cases. “The same goes for increasing the funding for local authority adaptation grants for older persons and people with disabilities.  I have had more than one case where the long, drawn out process for approving adaptation grants has finally been concluded and a work order issued, only for the person to have died in the meantime.  
“Councils must be empowered to build and maintain their own stock like they were in the past. They should be properly staffed and resourced to retrofit and adapt social housing to their tenants’ needs. We cannot stand over a system that leaves people in energy poverty or homes that are entirely unsuited to acquired conditions or medical needs.”

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Sarah Brooks

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