A full audit is needed on Louth County Council’s housing stock, while the long waiting times for home grants for people who are ill or disabled also has to be tackled, according to Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú.
The Dundalk TD was speaking during a Dáil debate on affordable housing recently, and used his speaking time to highlight the problems in the county.
He said Louth County Council has ‘a huge amount of really old housing stock’ and ‘a large amount of it needs to be upgraded and updated and the difficulty is the moneys are not there’.
There was, he said, insufficient cash for maintenance and while he accepted the council has drawn down funding to deal with vacant council housing, ‘we need to deal with the fact that this housing stock is falling into disrepair’.
Teachta Ó Murchú said:
“The residents of those houses may never have looked for any upgrade works but now are dealing with serious situations where the maintenance budget is not there to deliver.
“The problem is that we wait until it gets worse and worse and then it becomes more costly and eventually will need to be dealt with. I acknowledge that a retrofitting programme has begun but it is small scale at this stage.
“I accept that it will be escalated but it will not deal with the remedial works that are needed.
“I call on the likes of Louth County Council to do a full audit on housing stock from the point of view of needing a programme of works that at least looks at windows and doors.
“We talk about climate change but a huge amount of this housing stock is losing every bit of heat and is utterly costly from a climate change point of view.”
He also highlighted the issue of housing adaptation and disabled person’s grants. He said a number of people, including one person suffering from brain cancer, fall into priority one in Louth County Council but the money is not there to carry out the works in a timely fashion.
Teachta Ó Murchú said:
“The problem is the list is so great, these people may not be able to access these absolutely necessary supports for another two or possibly three years. That is not good enough.
“It is another situation where we are facing an incredibly difficult problem. We have a health need but we do not put sufficient money in and allow the situation to get much worse.
“We let the problem escalate and will then have to deal with it when to do so will be much more expensive from the State’s point of view. That is what we are doing. We need joined-up thinking.”