The Green Party has sharply criticised the Department of Housing for the unacceptably high waiting lists for Housing Adaptation Grants for Local Authority tenants.
Speaking today, Party Spokesperson on Local Government and Community, Cllr Malcolm Noonan said that the lack of investment in housing adaptation is putting extra pressure on housing lists.
“In many cases Local Authorities are experiencing waiting lists of up to two years for housing adaptation applications. This predominantly affects the elderly, those with disabilities, and local authority tenants with growing families whose housing no longer meets their needs.
“Many tenants who require adaptations to accommodate growing families, or because of age or disability can’t afford to wait two years for their application to be processed, and are forced to push for housing transfers instead. This puts extra strain on the housing lists, when often small investments could keep people in their homes.
“There seems to be a double standard at play here within the Department of Housing. When it comes to forking out large sums of money to subsidise private landlords through Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) or Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS), the timeframe for processing applications is just weeks, while money for adaptation and renovation of existing Local Authority housing stock takes years to come through.
“Grants for housing adaptation were cut by 56% between 2010 and 2014 and still have not been restored to pre-2010 levels. The real effect of this is forcing many older tenants or tenants with disabilities to spend more time in hospitals and the care system due to living in houses that are not fit for their needs.
“It is simply unacceptable that tenants who’s cases have been assessed as urgent and listed as Priority 1 under the waiting list, are waiting two years for their home to be adapted. In some cases tenants actually die waiting for the adaptation.
“This appalling situation must be considered when the Government review their ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ programme. The backlog must be tackled. For relatively modest funding, Government could deal with this in the upcoming budget. It will keep families, older people and people with disabilities in their homes, reduce costs on State care and give local employment to building contractors. There is no compelling argument not to fully fund Local Authorities to carry out these essential works.”