Meeting social housing needs ‘a challenge’ facing all Councils this year

Building more social housing units is a challenge that all Local Authorities in the north west are facing in the coming year.

It comes as a more subtle homelessness crisis is emerging in counties like Sligo.

While people may not be obviously living homeless on the streets of the north west, there is a warning that people living with family or friends can mask some underlying homeless issues.

The most recent report on homelessness published by the Department of the Environment shows that in the week of the 21st to the 27th of November last – 34 people in the north west were classified as ‘homeless adults’.

18 of these are in Donegal and 16 are in Sligo with no recorded case in Leitrim.

The Department’s most recent ‘Homelessness Performance Report’ for July to September of 2016 shows while no-one is ‘living rough’ on the streets – over half (29 of the 52) of the emergency accommodation beds in Sligo and Donegal were occupied.

It also shows that a quarter of those who left emergency accommodation during that period moved in with family and friends. (36 of 106)

In its ‘Rebuilding Ireland – Housing and Homelessness plan’ launched in July, the government says the homelessness crisis is directly linked to the supply shortage.

While building social housing will not get rid of the homelessness challenges, it will help create more options.

All of the Councils in the north west secured funding towards reducing their social housing waiting lists last year but it’s taking time to get those houses built.

In cases like Sligo, there’s the added challenge of the Council-debt which has led to staffing issues.

However, the Mayor of Sligo Marie Casserly says building more social housing has to be prioritised and funded this year: