"Robert Troy Scandal Must Start A Long Overdue Conversation About Flawed Local Authority Housing Schemes" - Silke
The Aontú representative for Tuam, Luke Silke, has welcomed the resignation of Minister Robert Troy, but argued that we need a conversation about 'unsustainable' and 'problematic' local authority housing schemes.
Speaking today, Mr Silke said: "Late last night Minister Robert Troy resigned. There are enormous political implications of his resignation - the coalition is in big trouble, and the government is hanging by a thread. I welcome the Minister's resignation. The revelations in recent days, and the Minister's handling of the situation prove that he, and politicians like him, are a large part of the problem when it comes to housing and that we cannot trust this government to solve this crisis".
Mr Silke continued: "The news coverage in recent days and the facts which dripped into the public domain indicate a huge problem when it comes to local authorities. Take, for example, the fact that Minister Troy owned a property in Mullingar for which he received monthly payments from the county council under the RAS scheme. This property, the records tell us, has been vacant for several months, yet the payments to Mr Troy have continued. Why in the name of God was the county council paying a government Minister for the use of his property, and yet not housing anyone in it? We in Aontú would like to see the government answer this question!"
"I've secured statistics from Galway City Council under Freedom of Information in recent days which highlight the severity of this crisis in my own county. The city council currently own 75 housing units which are vacant in Galway. There are currently 1,276 people or families on the housing waiting list in Galway City. A further 4,321 people in Galway City are currently availing of either the Housing Assistance Payment, the Rental Accommodation Scheme or the Long Term Leasing Scheme. There are currently 188 people in Galway City in emergency homeless beds, including hostels and other such facilities and there are absolutely no more beds or capacity available. The city council have confirmed to me that they are currently building 126 houses".
"In the case of Minister Troy, the RAS payments would have been 780 euro per month for the property. If we use this as an average (which would be a low estimate for Galway City) then the council is paying over forty million per year through these various schemes in Galway City. Its roughly a half a billion euro over ten years. I think rather than pumping money continuously into these schemes the council should invest in actually purchasing or building houses. It would save the tax payer money in the long run! HAP landlords know they can cream the council for rent, and are thus driving the average rent upwards. The more landlords availing of council schemes the fewer properties there are in the private market, and the greater the demand is - so the higher the rent is. If we continue on the route we're going then rents are going to go up and up and up. We need a new government. We need to shake up local authorities. Galway City council need to explain why they are sitting on 75 vacant properties at a time when we have thousands of people in schemes or on waiting lists, and no available homeless beds. We need to start electing politicians who are not afraid of bricks and mortar and concrete. The current shower seem to be ideologically opposed to the construction of houses", concluded Silke.