Donegal County Council has been asked to buy more large homes to meet the needs of families across the county.
Six houses with 5 or more bedrooms were bought or built by the council since 2019. A further seven large houses were acquired for families in 2016/17.
None of the larger properties acquired in the past 7 years were in the Letterkenny municipal district.
Cllr Gerry McMonagle has told the council that Letterkenny has the biggest demand for housing and that the onus is on the council to help families with specific needs.
“Our record over the last five years is not great,” Cllr McMonagle told Monday’s plenary meeting.
“For quite a while I’ve been submitting details of 5 beds to the council that are for sale which families need for medical and disability reasons and we are not meeting that demand.”
Cllr McMonagle queried what possible barriers could be stopping the local authority from acquiring larger homes for social housing.
The response from the council acknowledged that “there is also a need to acquire a number of larger houses at this time”. Cllr McMonagle was told that a significant number of 4 bedroomed properties, accommodating between 6 and 8 people, will be delivered under the council’s ambitious social housing delivery programme. Four bedroom properties also form part of the local authority’s delivery under the Turnkey Acquisition Programme.
Cllr McMonagle said the council must speed up house-building programmes.
“There is clearly a massive housing need in Donegal, rising rents across the country has led to many people being unable to pay rent and are now facing eviction and homelessness because we haven’t got the homes to provide housing,” he said.
“There’s almost 14,000 people homeless in the country and 4,000 of them children. Here in the northwest the figures are skewed. Statistically, there are 159 and 29 are children, that is people who have notified the local authorities, there is a lot of people out there living on people’s sofas, in cars or with their relatives.
“Homelessness is on the rise and house building is staying static, we are not meeting our targets,” he said.
“While there are projections of house building up to 2026, it’s hard to believe we will reach the targets from what we have built in recent years.”
Cllr McMonagle urged the council to be more proactive by providing evidence to the Department of Housing of an affordability challenge in the county to access the Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme for first-time buyers and those seeking a fresh start.
He said: “For those in that middle bracket, banks are refusing to give mortgages, rents are too high and we as a local authority should be more amenable to those kind of people and ensure they have a secure roof over their heads.”