Demand for local authority housing rose by over 42 per cent in Westmeath 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 Westmeath County Council’s housing waiting list had risen to 581.
The number of people awaiting local authority housing in Westmeath has been steadily increasing for a number of years.
While in the early 1990s there were between 200 and 300 households on the council’s waiting list, by 2005 the figure had increased to 408 and by March 2008 to an all-time high of 581.
The latest figures also reveal that the majority of those seeking local authority housing had been on the waiting list for over two years, while 15 applicants had been on the list for over seven years.
A further breakdown of the 2008 figures reveals that the majority of those on the Westmeath housing list, a total of 410, were people who were not reasonably able to meet the cost of the accommodation they were occupying or to obtain alternative accommodation.
A further 41 people were in need of the housing for medical or compassionate grounds, while 36 of those on the list were classifed as older people. Just one housing application came from a homeless person.
The figures for Westmeath did not take account of Athlone town, where a further 531 people were on the housing waiting list in March 2008. Demand for local authority housing rose by over 150 per cent in Athlone between 2005 and 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.