Bedrooms technicality leaves new council houses in limbo

Ten homes in Portumna purchased by Galway County Council to help clear the housing waiting list are lying idle – because of a technicality over bedroom sizes.

Galway East TD, Anne Rabbitte says the Council bought the houses in Castle Court as part of a wider plan to fix the housing crisis. But, she claims, that housing regulation changes brought into effect in recent years means the homes haven’t yet been allocated to people on the waiting list.

“The ten houses that were bought in Portumna are lying idle due to the legal quagmire over the size of the bedrooms. It appears the Council thought they were buying two-beds and three-beds but apparently the second or third bedroom in each of the houses is too small and it means that they may only have bought one-beds and two-beds.

“If you were buying a house wouldn’t you know how many bedrooms are in it and whether it complied with your own regulations? In fairness I think they’re working through this situation but it won’t be sorted for several months yet, as I understand it, and that’s no good to people on the waiting list and people who are homeless,” said Deputy Rabbitte.

Meanwhile, Deputy Rabbitte claims there is frustration in Portumna over the distribution of eleven homes allocated through Co-Operative Housing Ireland.

She says there is anger and annoyance locally that two families in desperate need of homes were wrongly overlooked for an allocation.

“The number one criteria you must meet in order to be allocated a home is that you are homeless. These two women with children met that criteria but then we’re told they weren’t homeless long enough. Now that’s just not good enough,” she said.

Deputy Rabbitte said residents of Cnoc Ní Sí in the town had worked with Galway County Council in relation to the allocation of the eleven homes but there is frustration that one mother of three, who gave birth a few weeks ago and who is sleeping on her mother’s couch, was not chosen as needy enough.

She said there is another woman who lost her child soon after giving birth who was also not offered one of the homes. Both women were non-Irish nationals but had been part of the Portumna community for some time, and their children had integrated into the local school and clubs, said Deputy Rabbitte.

“There is frustration that people within the Council’s housing department seem to be so far out of touch with what is happening on the ground,” she added.