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Sunday 25 September 2016

'I need councils to help ease housing crisis' - Coveney

Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Tom Burke
Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Tom Burke

Housing Minister Simon Coveney says he is willing to "change" his department's approach in order to ease the housing crisis.

Speaking at a meeting with Dublin city councillors, Mr Coveney said he wished to engage in a cross-party dialogue with local authorities to ask for their assistance.

"But I also expect that if systems need to change within local government, that you'll use the opportunity to do that, too," he said.

"That's why I'm here: to ask for your help, not to come and lecture you on housing policy and certainly not to come and lecture you on Dublin."

The minister also indicated that there would be a "significant announcement" in relation to the housing action plan after Cabinet meets today.

Mr Coveney was facing questions from Dublin city's elected representatives over the lack of accommodation and reliance on emergency accommodation to house homeless families.

Cllr Daithi Doolan, chairperson of the Housing SPC for Dublin City Council, said a lack of funding was a major issue in being able to provide housing on council land.

"We have the land, we need the funding to carry out the actions to build homes on that land," he said.

"DCC (Dublin City Council) has land zoned for 53,600 houses. We could seriously tackle if not wipe out the housing crisis within 12 to 18 months in this city."

"We have the land, we have the plans. What we lack is funding, Minister - simple as that."

While the minister said he understood the problem of scarce resources, he pointed out that significant funding was being given to local authorities.

Money

"If you look in the last 12 months, less than 75 houses were built by local authorities and that was not because of lack of money," he said.

He also added that the money available for DCC amounted to €300m.

Meanwhile, Christy Burke told the minister that 145 people were sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin last week.

He also passed on a message from Brother Kevin, of the Capuchin friars in Dublin, inviting the minister to visit his homeless service, which feeds 1,500 men and women each day.

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