LABOUR Party councillor Joe Leddin has questioned what he considers “the unacceptable delay” in the reletting of Council-owned houses after a vacancy occurs.
Speaking at a meeting of the Council’s Home and Social Development SPC (Strategic Policy Committee), Cllr Leddin stated that to have perfectly good houses lying empty with thousands on the waiting lists was “madness”.
“I have met residents throughout the city who have shown me houses in their estates that have remained unoccupied for 12 months and longer with no activity or work taking place,” he claimed.
“It is extremely worrying that there appears to be no plan or model of assessment to determine how quickly new tenancies can be offered once a house becomes vacant. Even more concerning is the apparent lack of urgency to have empty houses, that in most cases require very little maintenance work to have work plans agreed and completed within specific time frames.”
The City West representative went on to deem it “bizarre” to have unoccupied homes that require minimal repairs at a time of severe housing pressure. These same homes, he claimed, are also a cause of concern for residents within housing estates as gardens become overgrown and the houses become a magnet for antisocial behaviour and in some cases illegal dumping.
“We need a new fast track reletting model of housing that is based on specific time frames,from the moment a vacancy occurs there is an assessment completed to determine works required if any. Once this assessment is done the house should be classified in terms of minor or remedial repairs or more long-term structural works. Each classification is then done again within defined timeframes.
“Without agreeing time frames and a new plan we will continue to have hundreds of houses lying empty across the city while families waiting to be housed suffer in unsuitable or overcrowded conditions elsewhere,” he said.
Cllr Leddin went on to call on Limerick City and County Council to re-evaluate the housing strategy for Ballinacurra Weston and Prospect so that clarity can be provided to residents in terms of housing upgrades, new builds, new roads and demolitions.
He also told members of the council executive that he would like to take them on a walkabout around Ballinacurra Weston to show them firsthand the boarded up houses in the area.
Sinn Féin councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh supported Cllr Leddin’s motion. He told council members that the Ballinacurra Weston area was the only regeneration area that has been divided into two different electoral areas — Limerick City West and Limerick City East.
“On one side of Hyde Road they are looking across at people who are getting everything done to their homes, while on the other side they can get no work done. This is causing huge resentment in the area. The whole community needs to be treated as one community,” Cllr Ó Ceallaigh commented.