Kildare County Council To Invest In Housing

Kildare County Councillors have welcomed measures announced in the county budget to tackle the housing crisis.

At the annual budget meeting today the Council allocated nearly €28 million to housing and building services. This is an increase of €4.5 million from last year and represents a sizeable portion of the Council’s €136 million budget for 2015.

Several councillors suggested how this money could be spent. Fianna Fáil Councillor Suzanne Doyle said there are still only two employees in the Council’s housing department, despite the increase in homelessness. She said: “if you compare it to my small business, I don’t have the same amount of staff in on Monday as I do on Friday, because I know Friday will be busier.”

Chief Executive of the Council, Peter Carey, acknowledged that people were increasingly concerned about homelessness and said the council is committed to tackling the problem.

Fine Gael Councillor Brendan Weld sought assurances that the housing staff levels would be prioritised and that more social housing would be provided. Councillor Weld said: “it worked well when the council was getting houses by itself without the housing bodies”. He questioned whether the council could go back to this system.

Chief Executive of the Council, Peter Carey, acknowledged that people were increasingly concerned about homelessness and said the council is committed to tackling the problem.

Housing and Building Director, Peter Minnock, said the council is acquiring houses for homeless families, including five in the last two weeks. He said that the council is compiling a schedule of properties it owns, identifying suitable sites and determining how best to use these sites and properties.

Mr. Minnock said the council is working with housing bodies to provide 200 units on council land in the next year. He said that these bodies have the funds so the council has to work with them for the moment unless there is a change in national policy.

Independent Councillor Joanne Pender said she had an issue with €500,000 being spent on animal welfare, such as horse seizures. She said, “surely the animal crisis is not as bad as the homelessness crisis” and questioned whether the money would be better spent on homelessness services.

However, Director of Water and Environmental Services, Joe Boland, said that Kildare has a high level of horse seizures and that there was no saving to be made in this area.

Cllr Joanne Pender said “surely the animal crisis is not as bad as the homelessness crisis” and questioned whether the money for animal welfare would be better spent on homelessness services.

Although housing received the most attention today, two other divisions have similar budgets. The council will spend over €28 million on roads and transportation and nearly €26 million on environmental protection, such as waste and recycling.

Over €4 million of the roads budget is for lighting. Between 3,000 and 4,000 lights will be repaired or provided and the Council agreed to inform councillors before making decisions.

Rate payers will be pleased that rates remained unchanged for the fourth year in a row: €68.95 for the county, €67.41 for Naas and €56.29 for Athy. These rates cannot be increased until they are harmonised and it was agreed harmonisation should happen in the next five years.

The budget was adopted by 33 to 2, with Independent Councillors Brendan Young and Joanne Pender voting against the budget. Five councillors were not present.

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