150 per cent increase in Athlone housing list

Demand for local authority housing rose by over 150 per cent in Athlone between 2005 and 2008, according to new statistics from the Department of the Environment.

The recently published Annual Housing Statistics Bulletin 2008 reveals that, by March 2008, the number of people on Athlone Town Council’s housing waiting list had risen to 531.

The number of people awaiting local authority housing in Athlone had been increasing for a number of years; however, by far the biggest jump was from the 2005 figure of 206 to the all-time high of 531 of March last year. In contrast, there were just 78 people awaiting local authority housing in 1991.

The largest portion of applicants, some 156, had been on the waiting list between two and three years, while a further 52 were waiting between three and seven years to be housed.

A further breakdown of the 2008 figures reveals that the majority of those on the Athlone housing list, a total of 288, were people who were not reasonably able to meet the cost of the accommodation they were occupying or to obtain alternative accommodation.

A further 104 people were in need of the housing for medical or compassionate grounds, while 42 applications came from those living in overcrowded accommodation. Just one housing application came from a homeless person. Meanwhile, housing applications to Westmeath County Council rose by over 42 per cent between 2005 and 2008, with a total of 581 people on the housing list by March 2008.

Launching his Department’s Annual Housing Statistics Bulletin 2008, Minister for Housing and Local Services, Deputy Michael Finneran, highlighted how 2008 saw continuing emphasis on meeting the housing needs of the most vulnerable sections of society, citing the publication of the Government’s new homelessness strategy, The Way Home, as a clear example of this.

He also emphasised the priority attached to improving housing quality, and the environmental performance of housing, through a range of regeneration and improvement programmes.

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