by Paul Murphy
Sixty seven families who had been on the social housing waiting list in Meath for a number of years were welcomed into their new homes by the Minister of State Damien English at the launch of the development at Milltown Meadows, Ashbourne on Monday.
Cluid Housing, in partnership with Glenveagh Properties and Meath County Council developed the new estate which brings much-need affordable housing to the area.
The new householders had been waiting seven years on average on the social housing waiting list. Seven Syrian families are among the new residents.
Mr English said that the addition of the 67 houses to the Council’s housing stock was an indication that it was beginning to get a handle on the housing provision question in the county.
He said that the two, three and four-bedroomed houses were ideal for families. They had been built to a high specification and would be easy to run, he said.
The new owners had been waiting an average of seven years for the new homes.
Meath East Fianna Fail TD Thomas Byrne welcomed the opening of the 67 houses but pointed out that it was “only a drop in the ocean” of what was needed.
“I fully welcome the 67 new houses. However, a lot more is expected from this Fine Gael Government in terms of tackling the housing shortage. As we move towards Budget 2019, there needs to be a real and tangible focus on housing.
“The foundation stone of this Budget must involve practical measures and not just spin to tackle the acute housing crisis. Fianna Fail will be using their influence through the Confidence and Supply agreement to set about real change that will deliver houses that are critically required.”
“We need to see a lot more projects like Milltown Meadows. The time is up for reports, empty promises and spin from Fine Gael - they need to get on with the job.”
On the morning he was due to be notified that he was getting a new home in Ashbourne, Michael Keane was driving around Ashbourne with all his personal belongings in the back of his van and waiting for the "off".
When the housing officer for Cluid rang him to say "green light" he was over to the house at Milltown Meadows, Ashbourne in a flash, raced upstairs to fill the wardrobes and was out cleaning the windows by lunchtime! He had been waiting 20 years for a house of his own and when the big day arrived he was "ecstatic" - all his dreams had come true.
A former Waterford Crystal worker, and divorced, Michael (56) had spent 10 years on the council housing waiting list in Waterford before moving closer to Dublin where he was studying for a degree in photography and journalism at DIT. Because it's impossible to transfer a social housing application from one county council area to another, he had to start again on the housing list in Meath and spent a further 10 years on the list here. He was involved in the RAS (Rental Accommodation Scheme) but found that e850 maximum allowable would not go far enough to meet e1,200-1,300 rents in the private sector. He had to move out of rented accommodation because the owner wanted to sell up and in desperation he contacted Minister Regina Doherty and Cllr Darren O'Rourke to help him. "When I got the house I didn't mind at all that it was No 13", he said, "when I moved in last October I felt 'I'm grounded, I have a home at last".