Deputy Connolly says the rhetoric from the government in relation to their policy ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ is simply hiding the magnitude of the housing crisis. Last week in the Dáil Deputy Connolly raised the housing crisis on both a specific and general level in relation to Galway City. Specifically she highlighted the case of a housing applicant who has been on the list since 2002 to date and in that period has never been offered either a council house or a house from a voluntary body. That an applicant is waiting 15 years for a house, never having received nor refused an offer, is incredible and is reflective of a dysfunctional system both at a local and national level.
The specific case highlighted in the Dáil by Deputy Connolly is simply one housing applicant out of approximately 15,000 people on a waiting list for varying periods from 2002. In response to this crisis the City Council will be building a total of 14 houses this year, the first construction of a City Council house since 2009. In addition a further 55 units are at the design stage and it is hoped to go on site at the end of 2017 or early 2018. While the construction of these houses is very welcome it will not make any serious inroad into the housing crisis.
What is required said Deputy Connolly is for the Council to clarify precisely what residential land they own and is not sterilised by the proposed new N6 project. In this regard the Department has made it quite clear that money is not a problem. Minister English confirmed in his reply to Deputy Connolly that he is not happy with what Galway is bringing forward across the board in social housing. Indeed one project submitted by the City Council under Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) did not pass the test as it was not going to deliver enough units.
Deputy Connolly said the blaming game is not appropriate given the extent of the crisis and matter should be clarified between the City Council and the Department as a matter of urgency. Furthermore, the complete reliance on the private market through the use of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is actively fueling the unsustainable rental market, putting public funds into the hands of landlords. There is a role for the private market said Deputy Connolly but it has to be balanced by an active social housing construction programme and also the facilitation of co-operative housing on Council-owned land.