Galway City Council has been accused of having “the worst record for social housing nationwide” having built “no social housing at all” and having acquired “the lowest number of units” in the State.
This is the view of the Social Democrats Galway West candidate Niall Ó Tuathail, who was commenting on new figures from the Department of Housing. Department of Housing figures – which also show that Galway County Council did not fare much better. In a breakdown of social housing output nationwide last year, Galway City Council is one of six local authorities that constructed no social housing. It also acquired seven properties over the 12 months – the lowest figure in the State.
The Government’s ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ programme currently aims to provide almost 2,000 homes in Galway between 2018 and 2021. However, it has faced criticism over figures on the construction of social housing across the state – with Ó Tuathail claiming figures “on the ground” do not remotely match the figures being offered by the Housing Minister.
“These figures clearly demonstrate why the housing crisis is getting ever worse - local authority construction is happening at snail’s pace,” he said. “The only long-term solution is to build more affordable housing in Galway.”
Ó Tuathail claimed this can be done is for the Government to directly invest in housing, and sell most of the homes at an affordable cost to families and long-term rental companies, which in turn would pay back the State’s initial investment. “The remaining homes could be used for social housing, with the rent paid by tenants covering the cost of interest,” he said. “For this to happen, we need Government to go beyond relying on developers for new housing projects, and the local authorities to treat this as an emergency and speed up new building programmes.”
Earlier this year, it was announced that 220 units of social housing are due to be built in Galway city by 2019, with another 100 planned as part of the overall 1,000 private housing units proposed for Ardaun. More than 70 houses on a site off the old Monivea Road, are planned by the city council in a ‘turnkey’ contract with a developer. Work is proposed to begin later this year with completion in 2019. A total of 81 houses on the Headford Road, and another 20 in Renmore, are being built by private developers. The voluntary housing agencies Cluid and Respond are in negotiations to take over on completion next year.