Additional funding needed for housing grants

WITH only 27 housing grant applications to be approved this year, Tullamore Area Committee members said something needs to be done.

WITH only 27 housing grant applications to be approved this year, Tullamore Area Committee members said something needs to be done.

The issue was raised at Monday’s meeting of Tullamore Area Committee where it was revealed that 13 housing adaptation, two mobility and 12 housing aid for older people grant applications would be approved this year.

“There are people in category 2 who will never have the work done. It’s very unfair. Time is running out on some people. “There needs to be a re-evaluation on how the scheme is done,” said Cllr Tommy McKeigue.

Chairperson Cllr Sinead Dooley said there was a lack of “joined up thinking” between the HSE and the council in relation to this. She said while they were trying the keep people in their own houses, these were difficult times and there was a definite lack of funding.

Cllr Molly Buckley said a number of people with disabilities had died before the allocation was made,

She also warned about a high level of poor work being carried out. “I had a lot of people contact me where the work carried out wasn’t of the highest standard. I know the contract is between the people and the contractor and that the council inspect it. People with disabilities are in a vulnerable position and may not be in a position to supervise,” he said, adding that public money had paid for the work.

She asked if there was anywhere else they could seek funding to have these works carried out as there were still 60 applications still pending.

Dermot Mahon of the Housing Section of Offaly County Council told members that the uptake of RAS scheme was very low, with only seven people in the Tullamore area expressing interest compared to 40 last year.

“People were under the impression that they might still get a house while on the RAS scheme. However, they are seen to be adequately housed. Therefore there is reluctance to enter into it. Leasing is a very attractive proposal for landowners, tenants and the council. I’m disappointed in the area of RAS. I would have pushed it and now I am not as keen to do it,” she said.

Mr Mahon told members there were now 81 people on the housing waiting list in the Tullamore area compared with 97 this time last year. He said however the reduction in numbers was due to a housing needs assessment which was carried out by the council. This gave people the opportunity to let the council know if they wished to remain on the housing waiting list.

He also told members that the highest number on the waiting list was in Clara, where there are 61 applicants on the list compared with 14 in Mucklagh and 6 in Killeigh.