herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Taoiseach in homelessness crisis talks

Taoiseach Enda Kenny held crisis talks with the Lord Mayor of Dublin about the problem of homelessness in the city.

The private weekend meeting was attended only by Lord Mayor Christy Burke and Mr Kenny.

Speaking about the talks, Mr Burke said the Taoiseach had a "favourable" response.

"I met the Taoiseach in relation to housing and his response seemed to be favourable - there was no one else at it so that's my call," said the Lord Mayor.

However, even though the Taois- each is fully on board to deal with the growing problem, Mr Burke said that red tape is in the way.

"His response was that even if he was to and he would give the green light for the development of housing, that in relation to planning, contracts and the like you're still into two-and-a-half years before you get up and running," he said.

Mr Burke was speaking at the first Dublin City Council (DCC) meeting after the summer recess on Monday evening.

renovate

Councillors debated the housing crisis and Mr Burke interjected to explain that he had contacted the Taoiseach on the matter.

In setting out what needed to be done, he said: "We need to set out a building programme for local authorities."

He also called on Environment Minister Alan Kelly to make a statement on housing.

"Central government must act," he added.

There are currently 90,000 households around the country waiting for social housing and around 19,000 of those are in the capital.

In Dublin, 470 flats have been left vacant because the council could not afford to renovate them.

Last April, the council was allocated €3.2m to bring 135 of these units back into use.

DCC was given more than one-fifth of a total fund announced by then Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan. The houses and flats in question were ones that required substantial work to make them habitable.

The average cost of refurbishment in Dublin city was €24,355 per unit.

"Ireland is in the middle of a catastrophic housing and homelessness crisis," says the Simon Community in a petitioning letter it has drawn up to send to the Cabinet.

CAMPAIGN

"Stand and Deliver" is a new campaign by the charity asking people to sign a letter online that is addressed to members of the Government.

The charity's number one recommendation is that housing is increased, but the "right kinds of housing".

jfegan@herald.ie

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