County targets should be set by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage for local authorities to make more housing available under the Repair and Leasing Scheme, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator John Cummins, Fine Gael spokesperson on Housing, Local Government and Heritage, has pointed to the success of Waterford City and County Council where 44% of 1 and 2 bed units in recent years have been delivered through the Repair and Leasing scheme.
Senator Cummins said, “The supply of homes is the solution to the problem of homelessness and I believe that local authorities should look at the progress being achieved in some parts of the country where housing solutions are being quickly delivered.
“Waterford City and County Council has been able to reduce the number of families in emergency accommodation by 93% in the period 2017 to 2020 and individual homeless figures by 55% despite presentations effectively doubling in the same period.
“It was achieved due to a combination of factors including a commitment to a collaborative and integrated approach to homelessness from the Local Authority, the HSE, NGO’s and approved housing bodies via the establishment of an integrated homeless hub in a single location in the city where all agencies now work alongside one another.
“It is my opinion that Approved Housing Bodies and Local Authorities must think outside the box to deliver units and we cannot continue to have this utopian view that the only way to do this is through council direct builds.
“In Waterford, the Repair and Leasing Scheme has been transformational in the delivery of 1 and 2 bed units, and I think it’s disappointing that uptake of the scheme has been poor by other local authorities.
“It simply should not be the case that 45% of the homes delivered nationally via the Repair & Lease Scheme last year were in Waterford.
“The Repair and Leasing Scheme has huge advantages in that it takes vacant, often derelict buildings and brings them back into productive use with the up-front costs being covered by the Department and this being recouped via rent over the period of the long-term lease.
“If this progress can be achieved in an urban centre like Waterford city it can be done in the other urban areas, and I would call on the Department to set targets for local authorities to make better use of this scheme, which will deliver more housing solutions across the country,” Senator Cummins concluded.