The direct provision of social housing was the best solution to ensuring shorter housing lists, Chief Executive of Galway City Council said this week.
Brendan McGrath said this at a City Council meeting following the presentation of the city’s third quarterly housing report.
Councillors didn’t hold back their frustration that almost 4,000 applicants were still on the city’s housing list, some waiting as long as 11 years.
The city has a housing stock of 2,218 dwellings of varying sizes and age and councillors were told that it was increasingly difficult to get landlords interested in the long leasing or Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) schemes aimed at taking applicants off the housing list.
Mr McGrath said that it was his experience of working with local authorities that the direct provision of housing was the most effective solution, better than schemes which involved the renting of private properties to council tenants.
Cllr Oliver Crowe said that the long housing list was unmanageable, especially now that there was only one engineer working in the housing section instead of three.
He said he was getting calls all the time about housing issues and homelessness, one call last week was from a woman who feared her daughter (11 years on the housing list) would be homeless as she was being evicted from her private property.
Cllr Catherine Connolly described it as “a growing crisis” and that the 4,000 could be multiplied by ten to represent the number of people involved.
“The Government has abandoned support for social housing. People have a right to housing, the same as they have to clean water. It is an absolute scandal. If they don’t roll out a housing programme tomorrow (in the Budget), they have lost all respect. This council has done great work in the past 15 years especially, but when you suspend social housing programmes you will end up with a crisis.”
Cllr Declan McDonnell said in reality the 4,000 applicant list would have been more if a number of them hadn’t been lost when various schemes to address the issue were introduced.
Cllr Mike Cubbard was told there was no Plan B when he highlighted the number of vacant properties around the city that were lying empty while day centres were full to the brim.
Cllr Anna Marley said it was sad that people had become almost immune to the housing crisis because it had become so normal.
Her Sinn Féin colleague, Cllr Maireád Farrell said she, too, found the housing crisis shocking and she got calls every day about housing issues.
“People are on the brink of homelessness because they can’t find private landlords who will accept the rent allowance scheme,” she said.
The Council currently have 500 households on the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and 100 households on Long Term Leasing (LTL).
Most of the applicants (1,575) on the housing list were dependant on rent supplement while 1,148 were in unsuitable household circumstances. Another 439 were sharing involuntarily and hoped to have their own place.
A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day
Inside Track with John McIntyre
BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.
Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.
With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.
Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Greens see red on gold rush
Opposition is intensifying to the prospect of a licence being awarded to Canadian gold prospectors planning to explore the heart of Connemara.
Environmental campaigners have warned of the dangers of awarding a prospecting licence to Toronto-based MOAG to mine for gold and silver in land around Roundstone, Ballyconneely and Ballynahinch.
They claim the exploration could devastate water supplies, tourism, wildlife – and also led to tensions in the local community.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton has indicated he intends to grant a prospecting licence to the company to explore for the valuable minerals in townlands in Ballynahinch Barony.
The licence allows the holder to explore for mineral deposits, and does not authorise mining of any materials that are found – that requires further licensing.
And Minister Bruton’s Department insists that the activities permitted under this licence are “non-invasive” and “of minimal environmental impact”.
However, campaigners have warned of the dangers mining can have on Connemara, and have urged the public to object before July 6.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Controversial Ballinasloe landfill prepares for closure
The Galway dump that forced householders to close their windows during the hottest of summers will take in waste for the last time during the middle of this year.
The pong the emanated from the landfill site in Kilconnell will be no more as it will cease accepting waste by the end of June next year.
Ballinasloe area councillors were told how Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site following the liquidation of the former operators Greenstar.
The Council agreed to accept 300,000 tons of municipal waste over a three-year period and this will come to an end by the middle of next year, after which the dump will be capped and closed the following year.
Director of Services Jim Cullen informed a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that following the closure of the dump, there would be long term care of the site to ensure that there would be no adverse environmental issues.
When Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site, an allocation of €300,000 was provided by the Department of the Environment for local projects.
Of this, €120,000 has been given to the area engineer to spend at his discretion and the remaining €180,000 has been dispersed equally among the six Ballinasloe councillors – resulting in each getting €30,000 to spend on projects in their area.
It is expected that a further €300,000 will be allocated to organisations within a certain radius of the landfill site and a committee made up of Cllr Aidan Donohue (FG), Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) and Cllr Timmy Broderick (Ind) to decide how this fund will be dispersed.
For years, the dump in Kilconnell caused annoyance for local residents because of the smells emanating from the site and many householders say that it is still a major problem.
Cllr Michael Finnerty warned about the possibility of a run-off of leachate – a liquid that drains from landfill sites that can cause pollution – from the site into the future.
He said that he attended a meeting in Ballinasloe in which residents expressed concern about a leachate run-off from the old dump in Poolboy which has been closed down for years.
He was assured by Mr Cullen that the situation in Poolboy was being continually monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency but he would investigate these claims.
With regard to the closure of the dump in Kilconnell, Cllr Aidan Donohue said that he was not convinced about the ongoing maintenance of the site into the future.
He said when the landfill site in New Inn was closed many years ago, the Council just walked away and left the site in an unacceptable state.
The Fine Gael councillor was referring to suggestions that the Kilconnell site might have future potential and may be an asset but he cited what happened in New Inn when he said that it was just abandoned.