Clarity needed on offer of NAMA properties for social housing in Offaly

Damian Moran

Reporter:

Damian Moran

Cllr. Barry Cowen Chairman Offaly County Council steps into the Spotlight at the Ber Cowen Cumann rally in Clara, Co. Offaly. Ger Rogers/HR Photo.
Fianna Fáil deputy Barry Cowen has called for clarity on an offer from NAMA of almost 80 properties for social housing in County Offaly.

Fianna Fáil deputy Barry Cowen has called for clarity on an offer from NAMA of almost 80 properties for social housing in County Offaly.

According to Deputy Cowen, Offaly County Council indicated in September that it can take 54 properties for people on its housing list in the county, but the matter hasn’t progressed since.

According to information provided to Fianna Fáil through Parliamentary Questions, NAMA identified 79 ready-to-live properties in Co Offaly that can be transferred to the local authority to provide homes right now for people who need them.

Deputy Cowen commented: “I understand Offaly County Council wrote to NAMA in September indicating it could accept 35 of its properties in Tullamore, two in Clara, two in Birr and 25 in Portarlington. There were a further 15 properties identified by NAMA in Portarlington for social housing however the council has said the demand is not currently there to take them on.

“We have seen a major increase in the housing waiting list in County Offaly and the use of properties held by NAMA would make a significant difference. However I am concerned that the matter has not progressed since September. I would urge NAMA to work with the local authority to move this on early in the new year and have the properties transferred so the council and begin to house people in need.”

Nationally, NAMA has identified 4,369 homes that are suitable for social housing. But just 1,988 are being transferred to the relevant local authorities. Deputy Cowen, who is also the party’s Spokesperson on Environment and Local Government, said: “We need to be assured there are no undue delays in the transfer process. There are 100,000 people across the country on the social housing lists at the moment and it’s essential that available properties are used for families who need them.

Deputy Cowen added: “I will also be in contact with the county council about the further allocation of 15 properties in Portarlington identified by NAMA but the council feels it cannot take on at this time. I am keen to see any available NAMA properties maximised for the public benefit, particularly at a time when so little social housing construction is taking place and the numbers in need is increasing.”