The current number of housing staff in the Galway City Council is at “crisis level which is having a serious domino effect on the lives of thousands of people across Galway city”.
Cllr Ollie Crowe said staffing levels in the housing section have decreased by 33 per cent over the last two years, and that as a result, the quality of service Galway City Council is capable of providing has decreased significantly.
"To give concrete examples, Galway City Council currently has a housing stock of 2400 homes. In 2012 three engineers were looking after this stock and any problems with heating, plumbing, etc, that arose, but since then two engineers have moved on and not been replaced, which obviously leaves the remaining engineer with a massively enhanced workload and subsequently causes very lengthy delays."
Cllr Crowe has been working with residents in Westside and Bohermore in recent weeks who are hoping to have work carried out under the Home Improvements Scheme. In order to receive grants under the scheme, houses must first be inspected by a technician. Galway City Council previously employed two technicians, but following one moving on is now left with a single technician, who is currently out on sick leave and will likely be so for upwards of six weeks.
“This naturally means no grants can be distributed for the foreseeable future, which is a huge blow to hundreds of people across the city who had been planning on carrying out work such as installing central heating, better insulation, etc, ahead of the winter months. As shown by various reports, fuel poverty is currently a massive problem in Ireland so it is vital we find a solution to getting these grants processed."
He has written to city manager Brendan McGrath to discuss a strategy to gain exemptions to the moratorium and is calling for Galway West Government TDs to back his campaign and outline how serious this situation is to the Housing Minister, Paudie Coffey stating that "Housing services are at breaking point in Galway City Council and we urgently need the moratorium to be lifted so that at least five desperately needed staff can be hired. We have thousands cold in their own homes and hundreds without homes sleeping on the streets. The current state of affairs simply cannot go on any longer."