Homelessness on the rise in Tipp, say concerned councillors
The development of log cabins and other forms of modular housing should be allowed in Tipperary to tackle the homeless crisis, Sinn Féin councillor David Dunne urged at the annual budget meeting of Tipperary County Council.
He said allowing these types of relatively low-cost structures would be better than the council paying “the fortune” it did to facilitate people in need of emergency accommodation in guest houses, hostels and hotels.
Cllr Ann Marie Ryan said reliance on bed and breakfast establishments to house people in emergency situations was not working in Tipperary. She supported Cllr Dunne’s call for the development of modular housing because the homeless problem was getting “bigger and bigger”.
“I know the council is doing its best, but we are facing a huge crisis in relation to homeless people. We are now seeing people sleeping rough in all our towns and villages in Tipperary,” she said.
Cllr Pat English said there were ten to twelve people currently sleeping rough in his home town of Clonmel. More accommodation was required.
Cllr Shane Lee said there was considerable housing development planned due to the good work of the council in his area of Roscrea. But in spite of this, the town still faced huge challenges in trying to house people.
Councillors were told that there may be a directive from government shortly that would make it feasible for councils to ease restrictions in relation to the development of modular housing.
The council’s Director of Housing, Sinead Carr, urged renters who receive a Notice to Quit from their landlords to contact the council immediately. She said the council purchased as many houses as it could from landlords who had issued such notices. The council had 155 emergency beds spread throughout the county and difficulties in accommodating people was very often not just a homeless problem, but significant lifestyle issues were involved, and it was sometimes difficult to secure accommodation for some people.
Ms Carr said that with an annual budget of €47 million for housing alone, the council was doing all it could to tackle the housing problem in the county. She said €4 million had been spent on doing up vacant houses in the current year and the council had plans to spend a lot more over the coming two years on similar projects. Currently the number of vacant homes needing repairs had been reduced to 2 per cent of the council’s housing stock.
The focus next year would be to continue delivering essential maintenance on local authority houses, ensuring that tenancy repairs were completed in a timely manner. The council’s five year target up to 2026 was to develop 1,125 social and affordable homes. Currently there were 915 units at various stages of delivery throughout the county.
In the current year to date, the council has purchased 49 homes from landlords who had issued Notices to Quit to tenants, and a further 13 of these purchases were being investigated. This is in addition to the 35 homes purchased from landlords who were selling up in 2022. The council was examining affordable housing schemes and seeking to deliver accommodation through engagement with developers.